Food: How to Make Crepes

When I have a lazy morning, I love to make waffles or crepes. Over the Easter weekend, I whipped up a batch of crepes and documented the process on my first Instagram story. Since those stories only last for a short period of time, I thought I’d more permanently document the recipe here.

I’ve tried several recipes, and while everything has turned out well, I find this crepe recipe from Bonnie Stern to be one of the quickest and easiest.

Ingredients:
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. vegetable oil or melted butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. butter

Steps:
1. In a blender or food processor combine eggs, milk, salt, oil, flour and salt. Blend about 10 seconds until smooth. Place batter in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let batter rest at room temperature about 1/2 hour or in the refrigerator for a few hours. If batter is too thick, thin with a little water. It should be the consistency of unwhipped whipping cream.

2. To make crepes heat an 8″ or 9″ non-stick pan. Brush pan with butter. Pour a scant 1/4 cup batter into pan and swirl to coat bottom of pan. Allow to cook 1 to 2 minutes on medium or medium high heat until browned on the bottom (you can lift up one side to check) and turn by slipping a long, thin spatula under the middle and flipping it over. Cook second side about one minute. Second side will not brown as nicely as the first. Stack crepes as they are made. Depending on your pan and your stove, it might take a few tries to get the crepes the way you like them but you can always eat the trial ones! Makes 10 to 12 crepes

Note: This recipe is published in Bonnie Stern’s Essentials of Home Cooking as well as in the National Post.

Here’s my crepe photo diary:

getting ingredients ready

buttering the pan

pouring in the first bit of batter

getting ready to flip

stacking crepes high

reaching for Nutella

¬†And how do I eat them? Well, since I’m a Nutella-holic, I usually have Nutella with my first crepe of the bunch. I also really like the classic sugar + lemon crepe. If you’re into more healthy options, I like mixing eggs and spinach and folding a crepe over the mixture. You could use this crepe recipe for both savory and sweet crepes.

Oh – and one last thing, I use a de Buyer crepe pan that I picked up at Bradshaws in Stratford. And I seasoned it, too.

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Food: Finding the Perfect Pizza Dough Recipe

Among all the other things on my to do list this year, I’d like to try to find the perfect pizza dough recipe. My parents get the best fresh pizza dough from a local bakery near where they live, but I have only been able to find frozen pizza dough here in Waterloo. And it’s okay. Nothing amazing. Just fine.

Recently, I watched Anthony Bourdain’s Rome episode in his show The Layover, and I cannot get over the pizza that I saw in the show. The dough looked just perfect.

I tried this recipe from Ina Garten (side note – Ina and Jeffrey – #couplegoals), but I wasn’t impressed. It wasn’t malleable and, frankly, it was bland.

I put a call out on Instagram, and Deborah from Green Light District sent me over a recipe from Gourmet from 15 years ago. I gave it a go, and it was quite good. Although it was a time consuming process – the rise, punch, rise, punch routine – the dough was soft and easy to work with. It had a nice amount of saltiness, too.

Steps 1 & 2

Steps 2 & 3 

Step 3

Steps 4 & 5

Final product!

Here’s the recipe if you want to give it a try – with a few of my add-on notes at the end:

Ingredients:
2-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1-1/4 cups warm water
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (over the years I substituted 1/4 cup or so with whole wheat or other interesting floors like buckwheat)
Cornmeal for dusting the pizza tile

Procedure:

  1. In a large bowl, proof the yeast with the sugar & 1/4 cup warm water for 10 minutes or so, until foamy.
  2. Stir in remaining 1 cup warm water, salt, oil and 2-3/4 cups flour. Blend until it forms a dough.
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface, knead, incorporating as much as the remaining 1/4 cup flour as necessary to prevent dough from sticking. Should take anywhere between 7-10 minutes. Should be smooth like a baby’s bottom!
  4. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turn to coat, let rise covered with plastic wrap in a warm place for 2 hours, or until doubled.
  5. Punch down, let rise again for 45 minutes until doubled again, covered with plastic wrap.
  6. Divide the dough into 3 balls.
  7. Preheat oven to 500.
  8. On a lightly floured surface, roll one of the three balls out into a 12″ round. Quickly transfer on pizza tile, top with sauce, veggies, other toppings. Bake 8-10 minutes or so. Check it often.
  9. A couple of minutes before the pizza is done, add the cheese.

Additional Notes:

  • I don’t use a pizza tile. I use a cookie sheet. I also don’t use cornmeal. I oil up my cookie sheet.
  • I heat my oven to 450.
  • I use my KitchenAid stand mixer for most of the mixing. I then knead it a few times on my floured counter before I let it rise in the bowl.
  • I used “OO” flour (this one from Granoro) because this is what my aunt in Italy uses, but I’m not sure if it makes a difference. I really need to ask her for her recipe. That’s what I really should do!
  • I really like the classic margherita pizza, so that’s why you’ll see it in my Instagram feed most often.

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Food: Riviera Yogurt

Months and months ago when I was grocery shopping and my local Sobey’s, I picked up a package of Riviera yogurt. Now, I’m not much of a yogurt consumer. I buy Greek yogurt every so often, but I’m not a daily consumer. So when I saw this Riviera yogurt, I was mostly interested in the glass jars. They reminded me of France. So I picked them up and hoped for the best.

image via Riviera

Let me tell you, this yogurt is really good. It is like the yogurt I’ve had in France and Switzerland. I opted for the plain yogurt (I’m not that fancy when it comes to yogurt), but I’ve since bought the lemon yogurt (mostly because I like saying citron), and I like alternating between these two. The yogurt is delicious, it doesn’t upset my stomach (some yogurts do), and the serving size is perfect. Plus, les petits pots look fancy and pretty. Beyond plain and flavoured yogurt, the Riviera line also includes parfaits, cheeses, and milk. My local Sobey’s doesn’t carry everything, but the Riviera website helps you find locations where the Riviera line is carried.

So what do I do with the glass jars after I’ve eaten the yogurt? Well, they have so many uses! I’ve used my jars to store nuts, hummus, candy, and candles. You can order plastic lids in just about every colour online, and porcelain lids may be available, too (the website notes that these are currently out of stock).

If you live in Quebec and you don’t want to reuse your pots, you can drop them off at Renaissance. Otherwise, you can check out the 1001 tips for reuse.

pistachio dessert recipe and photo via Maison Orphée

photo via Riviera Facebook

For those who are interested to learn more about this yogurt, the Riviera line is part of the Chalifoux company, an award-winning, family-owned business based in Quebec. Oui oui!

Many thanks to Kathleen H. for sending me some lids for my petits pots.

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Travel: What I Did in Calgary, Alberta

On Monday, I took you on a guided tour of Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary, Alberta. Today, I’m sharing with you a few other things that I saw and did in the city.a

I was in Calgary for work, so my week was quite jam-packed. In between work obligations, however, I walked as much as I could to see what the city had to offer.

I absolutely loved the design of this parking structure.

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I was surprised by the arches at the Hudson’s Bay downtown.

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I was amazed by this handmade silk Fortuny chandelier.

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I was impressed by the art around the city.

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I found this plant store quite charming.

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I missed seeing the inside of Lauren Bagliore‘s shop because it was closed when I passed by.

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I was surrounded by beautiful objects at Kit and enjoyed a good conversation about Calgary (and design) with one of the sales associates.

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I was happy to stop in to Bite for a treat.

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It was an incredible treat to spend some in-person time with Erica Cook (Moth Design) after being online friends for 6 years. This fireplace scene in her home is pretty recognizable in the blogosphere.

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…and it was an extra special treat to come home with some Erica Cook original artwork.

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I enjoyed an extremely delicious meal at Sugo.

White-Cabana-Calgary-Sugo-2 Overall, I really enjoyed Calgary. It’s a friendly city and very easy to navigate. Walking around was simple, and the C-Train was certainly convenient. I would definitely be interested in going there again and spending some time in nearby Canmore and Banff. I heard the scenery is just stunning. I would love to see that part of Canada!

To see more of what I did, what I saw, and what I ate, check out #WhiteCabanaGoesToCalgary.

Travel: 28 Hours in Toronto

What do you do when your friend (in Ottawa) texts you (in Waterloo) on a Monday, and asks what you’re doing on the weekend? First, you ask her if we’re going to Nashville (that’s a story for another day). When she laughs at you, you ask her what she has in mind, and she asks you if you’d be interested in a Toronto meet-up, you obviously say yes!

Heck ya!

Considering the couple of crazy weeks my friend Shannon and I have had recently, a girls reunion weekend in the city is just what we knew we needed to make us both feel more energized!

After we confirmed that we were both available for a weekend away, I quickly got to work, contacted a few people, and started planning some girly fun for us. Today, I’m sharing our itinerary, and in the days ahead, I’ll share some specific reviews of what we did/where we stayed/what we ate.

Please join me as I take you through a 28-hour stay in Toronto.

Saturday

9am – I left Waterloo quite early in the morning, as I find Toronto traffic and parking to be unpredictable. It only takes an hour (in theory) to get to the city, but I often give myself two hours to get to the heart of downtown. I put my TomTom to use, of course, as I like knowing about the alternate route options if I run into traffic.

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11am – As my friend Shannon and I were coming from opposite directions, we opted to meet at our first stop of the day – the Windsor Arms Spa. Yes! What a perfect spot to meet. Since I arrived a bit early, I was able to nibble on some cookies and drink a tea before our spa experience – the Salt Cave.

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11:30am – Shannon and I met with our spa hostess. She led us around the spa space and told us about the halotherapy treatment in the Salt Cave. We changed into our bathing suits, threw on our plush robes, and headed in the Salt Cave for 45 minutes of relaxation.

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We left the Cave feeling refreshed and calm.

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1:30pm (ish) – After showering and primping at the Windsor Arms Spa, we headed to La Soci√©t√© for lunch. I’ve read a bit about this restaurant, but I had never been. Since we dubbed this weekend a #weekendofluxury, we figured that La Soci√©t√© fit our itinerary. It is where celebrities go after all (we didn’t see any).

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We opted to share the eggs benedict (with a side of salmon) and the pain perdu (French toast) with Nutella. This way, we got to try a bit of everything. This is what happens when you travel with your BFFs, you get to share the goodness! We had a very friendly server at La Société who was quite attentive and helpful with recommendations.

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time unknown – after lunch, we wandered in and out of stores around Bloor/Yorkville. The area is a gem for people watching, and to see what’s what in fashion, design, and luxury. While I have just about everything I need in Waterloo, when I’m in Toronto, I always like to see what’s going on at Club Monaco and Anthropologie, so we made it a priority to check out these stores…along with the prettiest of pretty, Kate Spade (so pretty!).

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5pm (ish) – After a couple of hours of shopping, walking, taking ridiculous photos, and being so happy because of the amazing spring weather, we hopped back in the car, and headed to our hotel (TomTom was put to work again, naturally).

It was great to spend the morning/afternoon in the Bloor/Yorkville area, but I was looking forward to seeing another part of the city while we were in town. Although I grew up in the ‘burbs of the city, I haven’t spent extended periods of time downtown in a long while, and there’s just so much to see and do and discover!

We drove south to King/Church to The Omni King Edward Hotel (affectionately called the King Eddy), and after we parked (I must say that parking in the two areas was completely easy on this trip! Bonus!), we checked in. We were greeted by a friendly staff member (Hi D!), and we had a good chat about why/how I blog only about white things (it does amuse a lot of people, I must say).

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At this point in our day, Shannon and I were were so eager to just lie on the beds for a while since we had done so much walking in the afternoon. Our reactions when we saw our room were priceless. We basically danced around the spacious suite, then flopped ourselves down on the beds (more on The Omni King Edward Hotel later this week).

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time unknown – We were pleasantly surprised by a visit from an Omni King Edward staff member who arrived with scones and biscuits in tow (I wish this could happen every day!). It was just the type of snack we needed! We pulled our seats up to the table by the window and had a little bite to eat.

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9pm (ish) – Earlier in the day, we had made a dinner reservation at one of our favourite restaurants – Terroni. It serves up delicious Italian fare, and since I could basically live on pizza and pasta for the rest of my life (hello carbs!), I was happy that Terroni had an open table for two for us. The Terroni Adelaide location was a three minute walk from our hotel, so it could not have been more convenient! It was the perfect spot for a lazy girls’ weekend! We walked over and spent the next couple of hours feasting.

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11pm – After dinner, we strolled back to The Omni King Edward Hotel, threw on our pjs (and hotel robes!), and watched some TV while we talked and laughed about all that we had experienced in the day.

midnight (ish) – We must have fallen asleep to the sounds of HGTV on the television at some point around midnight. Yes, yes, we’re very wild.

Sunday

7am – I really try to sleep in (especially on weekends), but I can’t! It’s ridiculously annoying. After a great sleep in a comfy bed with lots of comfy pillows, I woke up a tad annoyed at the fact that it was only 7am. I grabbed a few magazines and enjoyed reading them in the living space in our suite.

10am (ish) – After a lazy morning of chatter, an amusing photo shoot (to come later this week), magazine reading, and getting ready, we walked south toward St. Lawrence Market for breakfast. Again, I hadn’t realized how close the King Eddy is to so many great spots in the city. The St. Lawrence market area must have been only a six minute walk from the hotel, and Toronto’s flat iron building provides a perfect photo op. Easy! We chose to have breakfast at Hank’s because I had been there once before, and I had liked it (thanks for the intro to Hank’s, Sarah M.!) We enjoyed a classic breakfast, then set off on another adventure.

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noon (ish) – We had decided that our #weekendofluxury #WhiteCabanaTorontoReunion should include manicures, so we walked north to Queen West area (a pleasant 20 minute or so walk) as we were hoping to get into Civello salon. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get last-minute appointments, but the staff member recommended a nail salon a couple blocks away, so we went there.

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2pm (ish) – With our bright shiny nails, we walked back to the car (which I had left in the parking lot by the King Eddy) in the sunshine, and laughed some more as we thought about all the adventures we have been on together in the last 10+ years.

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3pm (ish) – At this point, our fun weekend reunion came to an end. After dropping Shannon off at Union Station, I drove back to Waterloo. We returned to our homes (and to reality) after a fun and fulfilling reunion weekend!

That’s how my friend Shannon and I spent our 28 hours in Toronto last weekend. I have a few more updates to share about this trip, so stay tuned for more posts this week!

Many thanks to the Windsor Arms Spa and The Omni King Edward Hotel for helping me plan this trip.

Food: How to Make Gnocchi

Easter lunch at my parents’ place means gnocchi. This tradition certainly makes me a happy daughter! My mom’s gnocchi and tomato sauce is amazing. While I always help out – we all have our jobs when it comes to making gnocchi for a gazillion people* – this year, I tried to document the gnocchi making process just in case some readers are interested in learning how to make it.

This isn’t a definite recipe. With much of my mom’s cooking (and recipes), you just “have to feel it”. This makes learning a bit of a challenge, I have to say, but I’ve gotten better at figuring out what “feels” right, and I’m sure you will too!

1. Boil a bunch of potatoes with the peels on for a bunch of minutes so they soften.

2. Drain the potatoes, peel them, and smoosh them in one of these potato press gadgets. (You can also use a food mill, but mom recently told me that she likes the results from the potato press better than the food mill.)

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3. Spread the grated/smooshed potatoes onto a clean tea towel and let them cool.

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4. Once cool, put the grated potatoes onto the counter, crack two eggs on top of them, and spread a bunch of flour around the pile of potatoes.

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5. Gather these ingredients together, then knead, knead, knead, and knead some more. The consistency has to be “just right” so “feel” the dough and stop kneading once the texture is good. If the dough is too soft, the gnocchi will lose its shape. If it’s too hard, it’ll be tough to eat. Like I said, the dough should “feel right”. Good luck!

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6. Once the dough has been formed, break off small bits, and roll the dough into long dough snakes.

7. Cut 1-inch-ish pieces from the dough snakes. Flour the pieces as you go, so they don’t stick together.

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8. Spread all the pieces out on a large, clean tablecloth** and sprinkle flour over top the pieces.

9. If you want to be fancy, invest in one of these inexpensive wood gnocchi rollers. Roll individual pieces of dough quickly down the wood gadget. While the gnocchi is delicious without this step, the rolled gnocchi is amazing because the newly formed ridges catch the sauce, and the little hole/space in the gnocchi holds sauce really.

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10. Take a moment to step back and admire your rolling work.White-Cabana-how-to-make-gnocchi-11 White-Cabana-how-to-make-gnocchi-12

11. To cook the gnocchi, boil a pot of water. Once the water is boiling, add a bunch of gnocchi. The gnocchi are ready once they float to the top of the water and the water is boiling slightly again. Scoop them out, drain them, then add them to a bowl of sauce. By rolling them around in sauce right away, the gnocchi won’t stick together.

12. When you’re ready to serve, call out “tutti a tavola” just like Lidia Bastianich (and a lot of Italian people!). The expression is Italian for “everyone to the table”, which signals to your guests that it’s time to eat, and they should hurry up so they don’t keep everyone waiting.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of the final product, but trust me, it was delicious, and the sauce worked beautifully with the rolled gnocchi.¬† (I was definitely more concerned about eating than taking photos once my plate of gnocchi was in front of me.)

*this year, there were only 6 of us, but mom must have made about 20 servings worth because a few of us like to have seconds and there’s always a bunch to share for leftovers

**The tablecloth is an essential part in our process. It might seem unusual, but it’s our tradition. The pieces might stick to a counter, but they don’t stick to a tablecloth.

Thanks, Mom, for letting me capture you in action!

The Friday Five: My Mom’s Favourite Blogs

How long does it take for something to become a tradition? For the last two years, my mom has shared her top blogs/websites with White Cabana readers on the Friday before Mother’s Day. She’s ready to take over the blog again today. I’d say that this has now turned into a traditional post, wouldn’t you?

When I asked my mom for her top five blogs, she obviously could not resist expanding her list to her top six. Such a classic Italian mom – always filling your plate with more!

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. The Enchanted Home

IMG_1690-768x1024via My Enchanted Home

2. Mark D. Sikes

House Beautiful HD #42 1108_AN_HouseBeautifulvia Mark. D. Sikes

3. Thistlewood Farms

farmhouse-kitchen-decorvia Thistlewood Farms

4. Preppy Empty Nester

kitch5via Preppy Empty Nester

5. Summer in Newport

August Wren-artAugust Wren via Summer in Newport

6. Jenny Steffens Hobick

spring-pasta-peas-prosciuttvia Jenny Steffens Hobick

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thanks for sharing your reads with us!

I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Read my mom’s blog and website picks from 2013 and 2014.

Travel: A Quick Trip To Toronto

A friend and I met in Toronto last weekend for a fun weekend away from reality. It was glorious. Here’s a quick recap of what we did, saw, and ate during our 24 hours in the city.

Shopping…what girls’ weekend doesn’t include a bit of shopping? Anthropologie was a highlight – mostly for the styling, I have to say. It’s such a pretty place!

White-Cabana-Toronto-9I saw the white background and thought it was perfect for a selfie. Please note: I am actually wearing sandals (spring has finally made an appearance), and I do not have a jacket on. There were big changes in the weather last weekend!

 

White-Cabana-Toronto-1On the recommendation of a friend, we went to The Carbon Bar for dinner. The menu has all the goodness of southern cookin’ – ribs, cornbread, slaw, grits – and the cocktails to match I was torn between the brisket and the squid/mussels/pork belly + lentils dish, and in the end, I opted for the fish. I don’t think you can actually make a wrong decision at The Carbon Bar. Everything that was coming out of the kitchen looked delicious.

White-Cabana-Toronto-2White-Cabana-Toronto-3¬† White-Cabana-Toronto-4For Sunday brunch, we did a bit of a Google/Trip Advisor search and settled on Smith (Church & Wellesley). I’m rarely on this side of town when I’m in Toronto, so it was nice to see what’s on the go east of Yonge. If you don’t know where Smith is, you might just walk right past it (like we did), but once you find it, you’ll feel like you hit the jackpot. Our dining neighbours told us as much. I opted for the salmon plate (with cream cheese, capers, and bagel crisps), and my friend got the croque madame. We were both pleased. The food was plentiful and fresh. I loved the design of this space, and the patio and bathroom both looked really cool.

White-Cabana-Toronto-7White-Cabana-Toronto-8White-Cabana-Toronto-6   White-Cabana-Toronto-5So there you have it Рa peek into my quick weekend in Toronto.

Food: Vanilla Danish Cookies

A couple of years ago,¬†I learned about Danish¬†chef Trine Hahnemann¬†as I was¬†munching on some simple¬†vanilla cookies that a friend made from Trine’s recipe. The little white¬†rings are full of goodness¬†– they’re¬†perfectly sized¬†and have¬†just enough¬†sweetness.

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I didn’t make them in time for Christmas, but I did bake a batch in time for my family’s New Year’s Day feast.

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before –¬†little ring cookies ready for the oven

Trine-hahnemann-danish-cookies-White-Cabana-2Trine-hahnemann-danish-cookies-White-Cabana-1after: little ring cookies ready to be eaten

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Trine Hahnemann’s Vanilla Danish Butter Cookies

375 g butter
250 g sugar
1 egg
2 vanilla pods
500 g plain flour

1. Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until the mixture is pale and fluffy. Add the egg and continue beating.
3. Split the vanilla pods lengthways and scrape out the seeds with the tip of a knife. Stir them into the flour.
4. Fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. (I knead the dough a little bit so everything sticks together.)
5. Wrap the dough in cling wrap and chill for (at least) two hours.
6. Preheat the oven to¬†200¬įC (I¬†set mine at 390¬įF).
7. Roll the dough into very thin sausages about fix or six centimetres long. Curl each on into a ring and press the ends firmly together.
8. Place rings on a parchment-lined baking tray (I put the trays in the fridge for a few minutes before putting them in the oven. This helps them keep their small ring shape).
9. Bake for about eight minutes (I baked mine for about 6 minutes.)
10. Cool cookies on a wire rack.
11. Store the cookies in an airtight container and do not mix them with other types of cookies or they will go soft.

*Instead of converting the measurements into cups and tablespoons, I used a scale and weighed each of the ingredients.

Thanks to Emmy for teaching me about these delicious Danish cookies. Recipe via Red (original recipe is in The Scandinavian Cookbook). Photos by me.

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