Happy Hosting 2010 Greatest Hits

I hope you aren’t reading this while sitting on the tarmac for eight hours, lying on a cot at JFK or snowed in with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall at the Mohonk Mountain House. Mother Nature is very busy reminding all the coasts who’s the boss. What a way to end the year, no? But before we ring in 2011 I wanted to do a little etiquette refresher for the final events of 2010.

Now, unless you were raised by wolves, you know the rules of being a good guest:

Never Come Empty Handed
Play Nicely with Others
Thank the Host

It's the rules of being a good host I feel we need to review. Hosting is work. You have a job. And no, that job is not simply to fill your home with food and drink and open the door when someone knocks. I’m a little up in arms about this topic because of a story I heard recently that I found unacceptable. A friend of mine reconnected with a woman with whom she’d attended college. They hadn’t been super close but were certainly more than acquaintances. They now live a few miles from each other, are married to interesting guys and have children of similar age. They’d had a few play dates, the kids got along well and when the holidays approached my friend received an invitation to an open house at her college pal’s. So, she gathers her kids and her husband and drives the 10 minutes to the party where they are greeted at the door by the hostess with, “I can’t believe you came.” And not in a, “I’m so happy to see you!” way but more like a, “You came. Huh.”

First of all, why was she surprised? She was the one who sent the Evite, had entertained them before and lives only a few towns away. What was the big deal? Now I can’t imagine she wanted to come across as unenthusiastic. Maybe she was impressed with my friend’s ability to get her brood together, or wrestle her daughters into their dresses. But regardless her welcome was decidedly un. And unfortunately the rest of the party didn’t go much better. Hostess disappeared soon after and my friend and her husband were left to introduce themselves to 50 strangers all of whom seemed to know each other. This is an example of a host not doing her job. She should have greeted them warmly, ushered them inside, told them where to put their coats and then made a point of introducing them to one or two people who also enjoy, I don’t know, hiking or have kids who prefer Tofu Pups to hot dogs or spend summers on the Cape. You don’t just set people adrift into a sea of strangers.

This story dovetails perfectly with one I heard from another friend last summer. She and her husband were new residents of a beach community when they were invited to a big July 4th outdoor shindig at the mega-house of a woman they knew peripherally who’d lived in the community for years with her family. This time the guests had to seek out the hostess in the enormous crowd who turned to them and said, “Hi. So glad you could make it!” Okay, she gets credit for being friendly but then she just directed them to the bar set-up at the other end of the lawn and that was the last they saw of her. What is wrong with this picture? Almost everything. They stayed for awhile, introduced themselves to a few people and left before even figuring out who the husband of the hostess was.

Clearly we have a problem here. What happened to the art of hosting? To making everyone feel welcome, at home and part of a whole? I don’t know but it needs to stop. If you don’t have the energy to take on the job don’t give a party. Or make your guest list shorter so you have the time to get the social gears turning. Frankly I think most people can handle sliding a foil tray of spanakopita into a toaster oven. They might even prefer to eat it on their own couch in sweat pants talking to their favorite person rather than gussying up to trudge in the snow carrying a bottle of wine to a party where their presence won’t be appreciated.

Okay, I’m done lecturing but I hope a few hosts have been reminded of their duties. And I suspect I won’t be invited to any of their soirees anytime soon. Oh well. I’d better buy myself some baby quiches the next time I go to Costco. Meanwhile, if you are giving a New Year’s Eve or Day party the above photos are some greatest hits from 2010 to arrange on your buffet table, just click on the yellow links for the recipes. Happy New Year! And Happy Hosting!


Heating Up the Holidays Gingerbread Cake

I'm in some weird seasonal denial. Winter is fully upon us and yet I'm surprised every day that it's cold. Maybe it's because we went from balmier temps to freezing so quickly but still, you'd think I would have accepted that it is the end of December and I'd better contain my puffy coat rage. I hate my coat. I don't want to look at it for another minute but too bad, I've got three more months before we're divorcing for good. Or at least until next November when the intervening warmer months soften my mood to the point where when I put on the coat I feel warm and cozy, not imprisoned and resentful.
I think the problem is that I've been really busy and, as always, not living in the moment, so that all of a sudden I looked up and it was dark and freezing and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was glowing. It all happened so fast, no? Chanukah felt like it came the day after Thanksgiving (funny how two family focused holidays back-to-back feel like a month long reunion) and by the time I found my menorah it was too late. (Oh, it was in the freezer where I left it last year in an attempt to chill the wax drippings enough to break them off. Oops.) Then school was out, the nieces had time to kill and now it's Christmas and next week is New Year's and where did all the time go?
Then there's my crankiness that not only do I have a cold, red nose but there isn't any end in sight. Unlike those lucky few headed for some tropical climes I'm staying put. Then again, I suppose I should be grateful that I'm not traveling given the general unpleasantness of air travel or what happened to all those poor souls trying to make their way to Europe during a freak blizzard.
Enough kvetching. I'm clothed, housed and there's food in my kitchen so I should just shut up and embrace the season. One thing I've definitely been missing is my favorite holiday smell, ginger. There is nothing like baking with all the hot spices to put you in the spirit and for some reason I never got around to making gingerbread cookies this year. In general I avoid any baking task that involves rolling and cutting if only because there is all that chilling and waiting before you get to eat your treat, it tries my patience. Thankfully my crabby mood was lifted when I saw a recipe for gingerbread cake in this month's Cook's Illustrated.
I need to go on record and say you must add a subscription to your Christmas list right now. What I love about Cook's Illustrated is how insanely anal they are. Each article goes through every minute detail explaining how they arrived at what amounts to the perfect recipe. The chemistry, the testing, the multiple attempts, the failures and the triumphs. Being a part of their journey (but not having to suffer through it) gives the reader the feeling that she is truly being taken care of. You can put your faith into the hands of these buttoned-up Yankees knowing that they will not let you down. And the readers are very fastidious too; each month they send in tips on how to handle every day kitchen frustrations. Here's one from the current issue. "Sheila of Block Island, RI has found a smart way to grease cake pans. Save empty butter wrappers in a zipper-lock bag in the freezer. Whenever a recipe calls for a greased pan, pull out one wrapper and wipe it on the pan's surface. Each wrapper usually has just enough butter clinging to it to grease a pan." Can you imagine 1) coming up with that idea and 2) sharing your genius with a magazine? Brava Sheila. Although I don't see myself remembering to save my butter wrappers I applaud anyone who does.
This cake is everything the magazine said it would be, deeply flavorful and perfectly hot, not a wimpy spice cake but truly a ginger celebration. You can serve it like a casual snack cake, cutting it into squares in the pan, or turn it out onto a pretty plate, maybe dress it up with a light dusting of powdered sugar or, my favorite, serve it with caramel ice cream. I'm not sure when I first had that combo but it was life changing, such a great contrast in textures, temperatures and flavors. Whichever way you go the spicy warmth will thaw the chilliest of Scroogey souls. Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Heating Up the Holidays Gingerbread Cake
From Cook's Illustrated, January 2011
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3/4 cup Guinness stout
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2/3 cup mild molasses
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pan
2 tablespoons ground ginger (if you want to calm down the heat use only 1 tablespoon)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger

Ice cream or whipped cream for serving

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 8-inch square baking pan.
Bring stout to boil in medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will foam vigorously).
When foaming subsides, stir in molasses, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until dissolved; set mixture aside.
Whisk flour, ground ginger, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and pepper together in large bowl; set aside.
Transfer stout mixture to large bowl. Whisk in eggs, oil, and grated ginger until combined.
Whisk wet mixture into flour mixture in thirds, stirring vigorously until completely smooth after each addition.
Transfer batter to prepared pan and gently tap pan against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles.
Bake until top of cake is just firm to touch and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on wire rack, about 11/2 hours. Either turn out cake onto serving platter or cut into squares in pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature with caramel, vanilla or coffee ice cream or whipped cream.
NOTES from Cook's Illustrated: Avoid opening the oven door until the minimum baking time has elapsed. If your cake pan has thin walls, you might want to wrap it with premade cake strips or make your own from cheesecloth and foil. This extra insulation will help ensure that the edges of the cake don't overbake.

Yield: 8-10 servings


Beyond Easy Minty White Chocolate Dipped Wafers

On one of the final episodes of Top Chef Just Desserts Judge Johnny Iuzzini, bad-boy but really nice-guy pastry chef, sneered as one of the contestants presented him with a petit four. Johnny dismissed it and proclaimed it tasted like something found on a cruise ship. Apparently that was a bad thing.
I’ve never been on a cruise but should I ever embark on the high seas and they offer petit fours at the all-you-can-eat buffet, you can be sure I will eat many. Those perfect one-bite cake experiences combine so many of my favorite flavors, marzipan, apricot jam and fondant icing. Sometimes they’re a little cloying, but usually they’re moist and delicate. Unfortunately, I’m learning that a lot of people object to marzipan, so unless I want to eat an entire batch myself (which wouldn’t be so terrible) I won’t be making petit fours anytime soon.
As a kid, whenever the food-focused Christmas catalogs arrived, I’d grab them from the mail pile to flip through and fantasize over. Harry & David, Hickory Farms,The Swiss Colony. Oh why didn’t anyone surprise me with a nutty cheese ball or the Tower of Treats? My grandparents used to send grapefruits from Florida, once in a while including the coconut patties that were the pricier option, but that was so lame compared to the cakes and cookies and candy assortments these mail order companies splashed across their glossy pages. The Swiss Colony was always my favorite. They sold boxes of petit fours that looked so pretty in their crinkly paper holders. The fact that they were mass produced and probably had some freezer burn was lost on me. I wanted them. I never got them.
Years later I did enjoy a few months of the fruit club, a lovely gift that pays no mind to eating locally or minimizing your carbon fruit print. It’s so funny because even when you know you’re part of the club that gets a monthly fruit gift, each arrival comes as a surprise. Of course a dozen pears aren’t as exciting as a monthly delivery of say, cake, but they’re better than nothing.
These days the catalogs that crowd my mail box are from tonier establishments, Chelsea Market Baskets, Eli's, and of course Williams-Sonoma. And I still thumb through them picking out the gift no one will give me. But then again, why would anyone send me anything sweet when they know I bake all the time? That’s one of the perils of doing certain things yourself; people think you wouldn’t have it any other way. And the fact is, when I looked at many of the selections in the most recent Williams-Sonoma catalog, I thought, “Hey, I can do that.”
There was one item in the catalog that I would never go to the trouble of making myself, the Authentic Croissants from Jean-Yves Charon (a French-born chef who seems to do a lot of “handcrafting” in Northern California). He prepares them in the traditional French style, “Laboriously folding and cutting the puff pastry by hand.” See the word “laboriously?” I’ve made puff pastry "by hand" and it’s not so much fun. First of all, it’s loud; you have to repeatedly whack the pound of butter with a rolling pin when it’s ice cold. Second, you actually have to face how much butter goes into a croissant (oh my!) And third, you have to keep folding and rolling and folding and rolling when what you really want to be doing is sinking your teeth into a hot croissant right now. ‘Tis the season to keep it simple.

This week before Christmas is really stressful no matter what you celebrate. There is the sense that there’s tons to accomplish before the big day. Tackling complicated projects isn’t on anyone’s Christmas list. However, because there are still parties to go to and treats to bring, I thought I’d offer up a quickie sweet, a sort of riff on WM's Peppermint Bark Cookies, that captures the spirit of the season and looks so festive, whether on a plate at your house or individually wrapped in little clear bags to bring to another. I’m a little embarrassed that they call for a box of Nabisco Famous Wafers, but they do. Feel free to make your own chocolate cookie if you have the time. I didn’t feel like it plus I think these old-standbys are great.
And if you’re having trouble picking out a gift for me this year, here are some helpful hints: pages 22 or 36 of the Williams-Sonoma Christmas catalog. Just kidding. Sort of.

Beyond Easy Minty White Chocolate Dipped Wafers
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12 ounces white chocolate, chopped into 1" pieces (do not use chips, I used Ghiradelli's White Chocolate Baking Bars)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 box Famous Chocolate Wafers (or 40 plain chocolate cookies)
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy (5-6 broken candy canes smashed with a hammer)

Line two baking sheets with wax paper and set aside
Melt the chocolate using a double boiler or a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. (Note: you just want about 2 inches of water and you don't want the bottom of the bowl touching the water.)
Stir peppermint extract into melted white chocolate
Dunk cookies, one at a time, into melted chocolate so that chocolate comes about 1/3 of the way up both sides of the cookie. Shake of excess and place carefully on wax paper.
Sprinkle white chocolate with peppermint candy
Place cookie sheets in the fridge for at least 15 minutes (or pop in freezer for less) so white chocolate is set and firm to touch.

NOTE: These cookies are best stored in a container in the refrigerator, layered between pieces of wax paper.
Yield: 40 minty dipped cookies.


Better to Give Chocolate Dipped Almond Stuffed Dates

Gift giving is the bully of the holiday season. Everywhere you look there seems to be someone you need to thank or an offering for which you need to reciprocate (or one-up). Not only is it exhausting and annoying, it is also bank breaking. These presents have nothing to do with the gifts you actually want to give, the ones you’ve put thought and care into, the ones you hope will elicit wide eyes and excitement from your loved ones.
I know, it’s better to give than to receive but really, when did all of this giving start? When I was a kid there was no such thing as a “teacher gift.” Now that’s all my friends complain about. The classroom, piano and ballet teachers, the tutor, the coach and the babysitter all seem to require a little tangible appreciation. You’re already hundreds of dollars in and you haven’t even dealt with your residence. If you live in an apartment you have the staff, some of whom you’ve never laid eyes on (they should actually be tipped the most generously since they spend their days toiling in the grey walled labyrinth of your building’s innards), and all of whom compare and contrast how they are remembered by each resident. If you are lucky enough not to clean your own home you have the cleaning person, if you have a car there are the garage guys and if you like to lean over and pick up your newspaper in your pajamas there’s the delivery service. If you live in a house don’t forget the lawn care people or the neighbor who fed your cat while you went out of town for that weekend. Basically anyone who makes your life livable needs a pat on the back, and I don’t mean that literally.
At this point your wallet is flat, your account balance on the fast track to overdrawn and you have barely begun. Let’s hope you’ve set aside some funds for your nearest and dearest. But there’s still a group we haven’t addressed: the hosts. Rumor has it some people are dizzy from their holiday whirl. A party every Saturday for a month leading up to the big 12/31 is bound to take a toll in more ways than one. Not only will you be hung-over every Sunday for a month but don’t even think of showing up empty handed. Here’s where things get tricky. You need to know who you’re dealing with. I used to be invited to a Christmas party (wait, ‘used to’ not because I did something offensive but because they no longer give the party) where every year I brought the hosts a nice house-gift from a store the hostess frequented. And not once did anyone say thank you. I get it, the party was crowded, the present joined others under the tree and really weren’t they keeping me in food and drink and what did I expect them to do, say thank you to me for saying thank you to them? You could go back and forth for years. But still, some acknowledgment would have been nice. The fact is, I probably could have gotten away with giftlessness and spent the $25 on another deserving soul but I wasn’t raised to be a mooch.
These days I’m all about the homemade house gift. I can kind of get away with it since everyone knows I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and not a lot of time in a corner office (a place I’m missing a lot right now. I really used to clean up at Christmas). You have to know your customer though. I once made my granola (glassine bag, tied with a satin ribbon—a very elegant presentation if I do say so myself) and when I handed it to the fancy hostess she said, “Oh, pot pourri!” in a you-shouldn’t-have-and-I-wish-you-hadn’t kind of way. No lady, it’s not 1986 and I’m not busy drying flowers in my closet.
When I was a kid my parents had an eccentric actor friend who lived in a creaky walk-up on East 58th Street with a twin bed for a couch and stuffed tee-shirts for throw pillows. He was a lot of fun but a little out there and my father told me his friend once brought over chocolate he proudly said he’d made. And by made he meant he’d literally melted a Hershey bar, poured it into a little aluminum pan, set the pan on his window sill et voila! This is a homemade gift “don’t.” A homemade gift “do” would be to try a little harder.
I’ve done the toasted, spiced nuts thing which can be treacherous if your sister calls while the nuts are in the oven and you forget about them until you smell them at which point are you better off showing up with no gift or a bag of burnt pecans? The choice is yours. When I saw this recipe it followed on the heels of my date discovery and it looked so good I saved it for gift giving time. These are so easy to make (just set up an assembly line) and all about contrast: a spicy, salty, crunchy almond, a chewy, sweet almost creamy date and the deep je ne sais quoi of dark chocolate. Just be sure to make an extra batch. It’s still nice to receive, even if it’s from yourself.

Better to Give Chocolate Dipped Almond Stuffed Dates
From Bon Appetit, November 2010
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36 salted roasted almonds, divided
2 teaspoons finely grated orange peel, divided
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
12 Medjool dates
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Line small baking sheet with foil, set aside.
Toss 24 almonds, 1 teaspoon orange peel, honey, and spices in small bowl. Set aside.
Cut slit in each date and remove pit.Press 2 spice-coated almonds into each slit and enclose nuts in date.Melt chocolate in small bowl in the microwave until melted, about 20 seconds, stir and nuke again for another 20 seconds if chocolate isn't completely melted.
Grasp end of 1 stuffed date and dip 3/4 into melted chocolate. Shake off excess chocolate. Place date on foil. Repeat with remaining dates.
Sprinkle remaining orange peel over chocolate-dipped dates.
Dip 1 plain almond halfway into chocolate; place atop 1 date. Repeat with remaining almonds and dates.
Chill until chocolate sets, 30 minutes.


Ignorance Is Bliss Orange Sables

Socrates may have thought “the unexamined life is not worth living” but as someone who has been over-examining her own life for as long as I’ve been conscious I’d like to counter with “ignorance is bliss.” Or so it would seem to me.
Think of all the things you’d be freed up to do if you just didn’t know any better. You could proudly say you enjoy listening to Lite FM because really, everyone kind of likes it but is too embarrassed to admit it. You could wear nude pantyhose and not feel like a stewardess circa 1982. You could spend your vacation money on a Carnival cruise instead of challenging your mind touring the Louvre or your body by trekking in Nepal—and not feel guilty. You could marry a boring moron and not even realize it because you didn’t know any better.
Okay, those aren’t very good examples because even if you are clueless who wants to wear nude pantyhose? But really, it’s a pretty big luxury to have the room in your life to reflect on past choices and be able to consider those waiting for you in the future.
For the most part I know a little about a lot which is great for cocktail party chatter but not for in-depth discourse. Yet sometimes I feel burdened by the few things I know a lot about. I’ve talked before about my hyper-sensitive hearing and my desire to break the wall between strangers in order to correct the exchange of misinformation. Like the other day I was at a coffee shop when I overheard a know-it-all woman in town to catch a matinee expertly report to her doppelganger theater partner, “You know, Kelsey Grammer played "George" in the original cast La Cage aux Folles in 1983.” Okay, I’ve never even seen La Cage aux Folles but I knew she was wrong (it was Gene Barry in case you care). It was all I could do not to correct her. Instead I held my tongue and my imagined confrontation joined all the other imaginary conversations I have in my head on a daily basis.

I know I have too many opinions about things and the constant monologue in my brain is exhausting. Once in a while I’ll think I’ve kept something to myself when in fact it has slipped out of my mouth. Usually it’s about people walking too slowly or meandering aimlessly. I’ll be thinking, “Oh come on people, let’s move it along!” when some guy shoots me a deathly look and I realize I just said it out loud. Luckily no one has punched me yet. My desire to scream happens most often when I observe people eating. Catching parents sitting on a park bench feeding their kids McDonald’s when I know there’s a sandwich shop nearby I want to yell, “Ever hear of childhood obesity!?” If I just didn’t know anything I’d be able to walk on by and not think twice.

This week is the start of Chanukah which means my mother will be making latkes when we give presents to the nieces. Mom and I clash over food all the time. She thinks I’m annoying and uptight when it comes to anything to do with frying or animal fat. When she does serve meat at family occasions she’ll watch me dissect my dinner, roll her eyes and accuse me of being on ‘fat-patrol.’ I don’t care. I’d rather save my fat for dessert. But the latke thing is kind of too much for me. I understand marking the holiday with a side of potato pancakes but she seems to think they're an entree—albeit with smoked salmon and crème fraiche. Although they’re delicious I am so preoccupied with the fact that I’m eating a deep-fried dinner (with the accompanying smell of deep-fried hair) I have trouble truly enjoying her hard work.
So many traditional Chanukah desserts involve more frying. Last year I made sufganiyot (jelly donuts), although I did not eat them with my latkes. I'm afraid once was enough. So this year I think we need the astringent bite of citrus to cut through the oilier main course. Clementines are here and they are perfect for the tiny hands of the tinier celebrants. But I can’t possibly leave it at that. I need the contrast of a little crunchy, sweet cookie to accompany the fruit. These orange sables are delicate and crumbly and the decorative sugar can be tailored to your holiday of choice. They are indeed a rich butter cookie (and the fact is their fat content is probably not markedly less than a more overtly decadent dessert) but I’m just going to tell my brain to shut-up. And let me have a blissful moment of feigned ignorance. Happy Chanukah!

Ignorance Is Bliss Orange Sables
Adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, Dorie Greenspan 2006
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2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter (preferably high-fat, European style), softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Zest of one orange
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour.

For the decoration (optional):
1 egg yolk
Crystal or dazzle sugar.

In a small bowl combine granulated sugar and orange zest. Rub zest and sugar together with your fingers to incorporate.
Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.
Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball -- and it shouldn't. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you're aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)
Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it's easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.
Hint: To prevent your logs from flattening on one side, cut the empty cardboard tubes from two rolls of paper towels down the middle. Then rest your dough inside the cardboard cradle and put them in the fridge.
When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

To decorate the edges of the sables, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Place one log of chilled dough on a piece of waxed paper and brush it with yolk (the glue), and then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)

Yield: 48-50 cookies