Father's Day Gifts

May is running quickly toward June, and Father's Day is just a few weeks away!  Since I think dads are usually the hardest ones to shop for, here are a few ideas to help get you started:

Fathers Day Gift Guide

1. A fun photo box with a big collection of favorite pictures  2. A grown-up backpack for work or play  3. A pretty mixing glass for perfect Manhattans  4. A warm pullover for cool spring evenings  5. A sweet, hand-painted card  6. A portable fire pit for parks, backyards, or campsites  7. A really delicious and special bottle of whiskey  8. A to-go cup for fresh cold brewed coffee  9. A cool, retro baseball cap  10. A baking steel for the best homemade pizza  11. A new step tracker for best intentions  12. Some fancy, delicious hot chocolate

Some gift ideas for Mother's Day

It's finally feeling like spring here in Minneapolis, the year is moving right along, and now Mother's Day is just a couple weeks away. A little gift inspiration for the mothers and honorary mothers in your life:

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1. A pretty potted plant (lasts so much longer than fresh flowers)  2. A bright, fold-over leather clutch  3. A new blanket for spring picnics and summer beach days  4. Fancy gold earrings  5. Fresh stripe-y pajamas  6. A sweet, floral letterpress card  7. A pretty teapot  8. Beautiful, hand-printed napkins  9. A lovely walnut cutting board (also great for serving cheese)  10. Special tea from France (in such pretty packaging)  11. Homemade brownies are always a winner  12. A great sculptural vase

GiftsEllen CutaloComment
Rosemary Currant Scones
rosemary currant scones

I have an extreme and enduring love for scones, but that also makes me very picky about them -- there are some very bad ones around. We made these for Easter brunch last weekend, and they are definitely a favorite; they're tender and flaky and not that sweet, but with a sugary top crust. I've made them several times before as well, and I find the recipe to be pretty fool-proof.  You can make these into larger scones, but I love the mini size.

Adapted from the Ovenly cookbook (which is all-around great!)


ROSEMARY CURRANT SCONES

  • 1 stick (112 grams) chilled, unsalted butter
  • 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (62 grams), plus more for the tops
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (18 grams) baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup (130 grams) dried currants
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream, plus more for brushing

Cut the butter into 1/4" chunks and place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the chilled butter until butter is in small pieces (smaller than pebbles). Add the currants and rosemary, and stir with a spatula to combine. Pour in the heavy cream, and stir with the spatula until the flour is almost fully incorporated; don't mix this more than you need to.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, and divide into two even portions (if making mini scones). Working with one piece at a time, form into a rough round of dough; if it's really crumbly, you can cut the dough in two pieces, and stack them together, sandwiching the dry bits in between. Smush it back down into a small round, about 3/4" thick. Wrap well with plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about an hour. Repeat with second round of dough. (If you'd like to make larger scones, just form the dough all into one round.)

Once chilled, take the dough out and cut into 8 wedges like a pie. Wrap well and freeze.

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange scones on baking sheet with at least an inch between. Brush tops with heavy cream, and then top each with a generous amount of sugar. Bake, turning once, until golden brown, 22-28 minutes. Makes 16 mini scones, or 8 large.

Favorites (and why I love cookbooks)
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Even with all the amazing recipes available online (and they are endless), if I had to choose, I prefer cookbooks. Turning to a cookbook you know and love and have cooked from is like getting advice from your most capable and trustworthy friend; the best ones reveal a personality and ethos that you just don't get from googling "best chocolate chip cookie." Reading a good cookbook reminds me of listening to a whole album -- it gives you a more complete statement of what the writer is trying to say. Though I certainly do search for recipes online often, I love my (oversized) collection of cookbooks, and often flip through favorites. Here I wanted to share some of those favorites that I've had and cooked from for years, and to which I seem to always return.

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THE GOURMET COOKBOOK

This was one of my first cookbooks, and was given to me by my cousins Alec and Rachel when I was just out of college and had my first apartment. It's one I still come back to again and again because everything in it is wonderful and trustworthy, written from years of Gourmet Magazine's experience and testing. It's endlessly useful, a great reference book for whatever you want to make, and not too complicated to be a great everyday cookbook. I'm shocked and saddened that it's not still in print, but used copies seem to be pretty readily available online.

Favorite Recipes: Island Pork Tenderloin (pg. 475), and Cranberry Coffee Cake (pg. 643)

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SUNDAY SUPPERS

I love this cookbook for many reasons, not least because it's so beautiful, both on the shelf and to flip through. It's inspirational and aspirational but also totally doable and delicious. Every recipe and ingredient list seems so simple, and that makes the deliciousness of the final product so much more surprising.

Favorite Recipes: Chili, Texas Style (pg. 157); Buttermilk Cornbread (pg. 205); and Fennel Slaw with Pickled Red Onions (pg. 120)

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BUVETTE

This beautiful cookbook from Jody Williams is the perfect dinner party cookbook to me. The recipes are simple and elegant, just like her restaurants, and it's full of ideas that are more than the sums of their parts. Side note: if you ever have a chance to eat at her other New York restaurant, Via Carota, do -- it's one of my all-time favorites.

Favorite Recipes: Walnut Pesto (pg. 137), and Meatballs (pg. 194)

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SMALL VICTORIES

Julia Turshen's beautiful cookbook represents such a great version of what home cooking can be. It's a wonderful book for new and/or insecure home cooks because it gives you a "small victory" with each recipe, a sort of aha moment that will really help you learn to cook and grow in confidence and cooking skills. But it's also really great if you're not as new to cooking -- Julia has so much cooking wisdom that you will most definitely learn from her expertise and her clear and wonderful recipes. It's a definite keeper.

Favorite Recipes: A Nice Lasagna (especially with meat!) (pg. 145), and Julia's Caesar (pg. 83)

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THE BAKED COOKBOOKS

Ok, so this is sort of cheating because it's a collection of cookbooks rather than a single book, but I couldn't pick a favorite; they're all so good. They come from the owners of the popular Brooklyn bakery, and are a great resource for cookies, bars, and especially celebration cakes. These have some of my favorite, go-to baking recipes, like the sweet and salty brownies that I have made many, many times. The recipes are super solid and well-tested, with usually just enough of a creative twist to make them interesting.

Favorite Recipes: Sweet & Salty Brownies (Baked Explorations, pg. 93), Simple Chocolate Whiskey Tart (Baked Elements, pg. 85), and Chocolate Mayonnaise Cupcakes (Baked Elements, pg. 173)

    Ellen CutaloComment