Monday, April 19, 2010

Everything's Coming Up Roses...

Everything is coming up roses....well sort of. My Paris flight cancelled Friday due to the volcanic ash plume, which left me at home on a rainy weekend. When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade right? So when life gives you volcanic ash and rain, you make roses! OK, that may be pushing it but it sure helped me forget about it all. Since seeing Valentiono's Rose Bags at the Paris Ritz last fall, I have been longing for one. Bonne chance....the price tag is about $1,500. I finally recycled the brochure from the Valentino shop last month after realizing my Fairy Godmother wasn't going to be paying me a visit anytime soon. But, reminiscent of the Fairy Godmother herself, I had some fabric remnants in my stash and dusted off the sewing machine and thimble.Like a mad tailor, I whipped up a rosy, rose bag with a spring green with pink polka dot silk lining. I made a rose for another bag I had made previously, as well. All the while, it is still raining and the European airspace is still closed. I needed more roses, and a little something sweet. Rose and pink and green polka dot cookies emerged from my oven. Rose therapy worked for a few days. (I never uncorked a bottle of Rosé, but thought about it!) The sun is out now, but my Paris flight just cancelled again today, and I'm hoping this dratted plume clears before I start pushing up daisies.During this standstill of air traffic, I'm wishing for people to have the care and support needed until the dust settles and things get back to normal. Can't wait to hear the stories either ;-)

Rose and Polka Dot Sugar Cookies

Basic dough:
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (room temperature)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon almond extract

In large bowl or food processor, cream sugar and butter together until fluffy. Add egg, and almond extract until well blended. Add the flour and salt and mix until it begins to form a ball, scraping down the sides of the bowl if needed. If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of water. Scrape dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and press together to form a thick flat disc. Wrap well and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/8 inch thick, or
desired thickness. The dough needs to be just the right temperature to roll and cut properly. If it is too cold, it is hard to roll, and if it is too soft it becomes difficult to cut and pick up. Roll any scraps back into a ball and chill again. Use as little flour as possible to roll out, so they don't get tough. After cutting, place on a baking sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until just lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack. I use an insulated baking sheet to prevent the edges from getting too brown.*

Makes 4 dozen, 3 inch (1/8 inch thick) cookies. (makes fewer Rose and Polka Dot cookies.)

*My tips: Keep dough chilled just enough so it is easy to roll and cut, but not so cold that it is hard and cracks. I like to roll between 2 layers of plastic wrap. This keeps the dough from sticking without extra flour that makes the dough tough. I even roll it to desired thickness, between 2 layers of plastic wrap before chilling. Then when it comes out of the refrigerator, you won't have to roll and you'll be ready to cut. If the dough warms up too much while working with it, you can slide the whole layer onto a cookie sheet and chill, without disturbing what you've already done. Also, bake sugar cookies in insulated pans for even browning.

For the Rose and Polka Dot Cookies, separate dough into desired proportions for the type of cookie you'll be making. Then add the desired color using a toothpick, a little at a time until you get the color you want. I used Wilton Pastel Food Coloring, Rose petal Pink and Willow Green. Blend the coloring thoroughly into the dough, wrap and chill for up to 2 hours.

For the Rose Cookies, roll chilled dough to 1/8 inch thick rectangle, 12 inches long. Cut in half horizontally, and then cut into 1 inch strips lengthwise. This will give you 6x1 inch strips to roll. Roll the strips into a rose shape. Experiment with the technique until you like the shape of the flower. Just as in nature, no two will be the same and it adds to the charm. Flatten the bottom slightly so they stand straight up and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sugar if desired and chill for about 15-20 minutes before putting in a preheated 350 degree oven. Make sure they don't brown around the edges. The baking time will vary, but should be about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
For the Polka Dot Cookies, roll out the dough about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. Cut into 2 inch circles and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Make 5 indentations into the cookies using the flat end of a clean ball point pen or chopstick. Roll 1/8 inch balls of pink dough for the green cookies and roll green balls for the pink cookies. Place them into the indentations and chill for 15-20 minutes. Then put into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake about 15 minutes. Do not let them brown. Cool on a wire rack when done. Rose and Polka Dot Sugar Cookies recipe, click here

For the bags:

To make a simple rose, I took a 31"x3 3/4" strip of fabric. I then folded it in half lengthwise, make a running stitch, slightly gathered it, rolled it into a rose shape and tacked it down.

The pink rose was just tacked down free form as I worked. I want to experiment with a more free form rose, as well. It is more involved, but I really like the results.
I'd love to see what anyone else does or thinks about the style.

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