June 28, 2017

A Visit to Storm King Art Center

Whenever my schedule allows, I always try to spend time with my dear grandchildren, Jude and Truman - we always have so much fun!

Last week, the children came to visit me at my Bedford farm. After watching me host a special Facebook LIVE about baking and decorating cookies, and a brief swim in the pool, we decided to take the one-hour ride north to visit Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York - not far from the City of Newburgh. Widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King’s 500-acre landscape of fields, hills, and woodlands provides the perfect setting for more than 100 carefully sited art installations created by some of today's most distinguished artists.

If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to stop by Storm King Art Center - it is definitely worth a visit. And, if you are in New York City this fall, Storm King's Annual Gala Dinner and Live Auction will be held on October 18th at the iconic Rainbow Room, honoring sculptor, Joel Shapiro, and the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. Enjoy my photos.

June 27, 2017

Picking Currants

It’s berry picking season at the farm!

Yesterday, we picked some beautiful currants - those bright red, white, and black juicy, tart fruits. I’ve been growing currants for many years. I love using them to make jams and jellies, tarts and pies. They're also very easy to freeze and store for later use. In addition, currants are among the most nutritious of berries. They’re packed with antioxidants, minerals, and loads of vitamin-C. Currants are multi-stemmed, hardy, fast growing deciduous shrubs that are easy to grow and easy to maintain. 

This year, we also planted several blackberry plants. They do best in full sunshine, but can tolerate some shade. The plants are from Bushel and Berry Homegrown Berries in Oregon. I can't wait until they start producing delicious fruits. Enjoy these photos.

 

June 26, 2017

Decorating Cookies with Pastry Chef Robert Twardzik on Facebook LIVE

If you live in the New York City area and are looking for something unique and beautiful to give out at your next party this summer, consider getting some delicious Bakehaus 561 cookies.

Bakehaus 561 cookies are made by Chef Robert Twardzik - a master baker. Last week, I invited Robert to my Bedford, New York farm to join me for a special Facebook LIVE on making and decorating cookies. Robert, who makes some of the most stunning treats I have ever seen, gives me a cookie every year around Easter, so I was very excited to have him teach me some of his techniques. We had such a great time making dark chocolate cookies, and decorating them with fondant and royal icing. We also answered many of your questions and shared some of our favorite baking tips.

Robert lives in nearby Fairfield County, Connecticut, and sells his Bakehaus 561 cookies exclusively at the Fairfield Women's Exchange, a not-for-profit gift shop and organization in Southport that focuses on supporting the wellness of local women and children. Enjoy these photos - and if you missed this special Facebook LIVE, just click on the highlighted link.

Here are Robert's recipes…

Chocolate Cookies (rolled)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2 cups Butter (16 oz)
1 cup Confectioner’s Sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
2 Large Egg Yolks
3 Cups All Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Black Cocoa Powder
2/3 Cup Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon of Salt

1. Sift flour, cocoa powders together and add salt
2. Cream butter and sugars together then add egg yolks
3. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture in 3 batches until just combined
4. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight
5. To roll: remove dough from refrigerator 10-minutes before rolling, cut into shapes
6. Bake approx 8-12 minutes depending on size and thickness

Marshmallow Fondant
4 Cups Domino Confectioner’s Sugar (18 1/2 oz)
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice or Water
3 1/2 cups Marshmallows (9 oz)
2/3 cup White Baking Chocolate or White Candy Melts (2 3/4 oz)
Food Coloring (optional)
Nonstick Cooking Spray or Vegetable Shortening

1. Sift confectioner’s sugar into large bowl and make a well in the center of bowl
2. Place marshmallows and lemon juice or water in microwave for 40-seconds and stir mixture well with spatula coated with cooking spray or vegetable shortening
3. Place mixture back into microwave for 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until all marshmallows have melted and mixture is smooth
4. Add chopped white chocolate or candy melts into marshmallow and stir until chocolate is melted and no lumps are visible
5. Stir in optional food coloring (or knead color into fondant just before use)
7. Mix the marshmallow/sugar mixture with spatula coated with cooking spray or shortening or alternately with mixer fitted with dough hooks
8. Finish by kneading the fondant to fully incorporate any bits of sugar into the marshmallow fondant
9. Coat a large piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray, wrap tightly and place in resealable sandwich bag to firm up for four-hours or overnight 
10. When ready to use, if the fondant feels too firm, place in microwave at full power for 10-seconds to soften it, then knead it and it will be ready to roll and cut for use.