Panettone is one of the most popular Christmas breads sold all over Italy (and the United States) during the holidays. It originated in Milan around the fifteenth century and has been the subject of much lore. A commonly told story of how this bejeweled bread came to be goes something like this: A young nobleman falls in love with a baker’s daughter named Toni. He disguises himself as a pastry chef ’s apprentice and creates the tall, fruit-studded bread to present to Toni, calling it “Pan de Toni.” The bread is a success in the bakery, and the father blesses the marriage. This easy panettone bread is a quick alternative to the 2-day prep time of traditional panettone recipes.
I recently got a request from one of my readers, Mackenzie. She asked: “I was wondering if you could do a Christmas themed email? Like, baking tips so we can bake cookies for Good Ol’ St. Nicholas. One of the biggest problems I have while baking Christmas sugar cookies (or really any cookies) is trying to keep them from falling into a big crumbly mess after I bake them. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong! Other than that, maybe some tricks that you use when baking.” Ask and you shall receive, my dear. Here are some of my best Christmas cookie tips and tricks.
A few years ago I sat down to eat dinner with a friend of mine, a stew she’d spent all day making. She took the first bite. The look on her face was priceless. It was a combination of shock, confusion, and “what the hell just happened??” She coughed hard, so I took a bite to see what the commotion was all about. Within half a second my eyes started to water and I, too, began to cough.
Not long ago, I worked with a student who was CRAZY about macaroni and cheese. Like, this woman said she could happily eat nothing but mac and cheese for the rest of her life. (Honestly, I love it that much, too!) The problem was, she could not make the dish to save her life. Every time she tried she either ended up with a burnt clump or a lumpy, separated mess. She was super bummed that she could not seem to make her favorite dish.
In our one earlier lesson, she was very timid. She never made a move without me asking her to do something and often apologized for the way she did things. This is super common in cooking classes when a student is a total beginner, but I wondered how she hadn’t gotten a little more comfortable in the kitchen from working with her cookbook. As we sat over tea, I asked: “How often do you cook from these gorgeous cookbooks?” She blushed and looked at the floor, then took a nervous sip of tea. “I like the pictures,” she said, “but the recipes don’t make any sense to me.”
Last week I was working with a student and I asked her to get me half a cup of milk. What she brought me was 1 pint of milk — 2 cups worth. I looked at her and smiled, because I thought she was joking, but her earnest look wiped the smile from my face. What she’d brought me was half of a 2-pint measuring cup, so yes, technically it was half a cup… the cup was just really big. So I sent her off again and asked her to bring me back 1/4 of the milk she had brought me.
Let’s get real… salad is a big old fail. Some of us have learned to love it, and some of us even legitimately adore it, but reality is that lots of people hate salad and force themselves to eat it to stay healthy. It’s totally ok to admit it.
My grandmother was an incredible cook and baker. Everyone in the family used to beg for her recipes. Sadly, she never considered herself talented in the kitchen; in fact, she believed the opposite.
When turkeys defy the space-time continuum. And what did we learn from this little situation?
There is a certain confidence that comes with cooking that happens. Just like an artist, the perfect stroke of a brush is like cutting, seasoning, boiling, and preparing. The smell is just the beginning of the bliss that comes with completing, serving, and finally eating your delicious meal. With any accomplishment, our confidence increases, and we feel good. Cooking can bring out the badass in us all. There are five ways that cooking can increase your confidence.