Every week, your challenge is to create an eye-opening dish within our capricious themes and parameters. Blog your submission on Open Salon by Monday 10 a.m. EST -- with photos and your story behind the dish -- and we'll republish the winners on Salon on Tuesday. (It takes only 30 seconds to start a blog.) Please note that by participating, you're giving Salon permission to re-post your entry if it's chosen as a winner, and acknowledging that all words and images in your post are your own, unless explicitly stated. And yes, mashed potato sculpture counts as a dish. Emphatically.
This week, we asked for your best holiday cookies.
And, if you'll pardon the interruption, a quick note before we get to the winner. Some Open Salon bloggers have taken it upon themselves to start baking cookies for one another, sending tin boxes of treats all around the physical world and writing about it in the virtual one. The Kitchen Challenge is going rogue! And it's a rogue-going we heartily approve of.
THIS WEEK'S WINNER:
Sparkling sweet corn cookies by Linda Shiue: A Mexican tradition around Christmastime is to gather the family and spend a day or three making tamales, a tradition Linda knows well, being the annual recipient of her neighbor's tamalada. This year, she's paying her neighbor back in the form of a corn-flavored cookie, and she's sharing it with us, too.
THIS WEEK'S CATEGORY WINNERS:
Coffee hazelnut biscotti by Felicia Lee: OK, so Felicia's story involves a chef with an unfortunate penchant for Brett Favre-style seduction, but the biscotti he taught her to bake are rather more wholesome holiday fun -- crunchy and great for mailing to friends and family.
Citrus cream cheese cookies by Coyote Old Style: Rich with butter and cream cheese but brightened by lemon and lime, these tender cookies may look like regular butter cookies but will surprise with their flavor.
Candied cherry shortbread squares by Lucy Mercer: As Lucy points out, fruitcake jokes are as stale as most fruitcakes themselves. So instead of making fun of them, this year, why not remake them? These classic shortbread squares are tender and tasteful, and, with a splash of vibrantly colored candied cherry, festive too.
PLUS, ALSO, TOO: THE EXCELLENT HONORABLE MENTIONS:
Chocolate coconut macaroons by Ardee: Buzzy French macarons, with their eye-catching colors and playful flavors, may make traditional coconutty macaroons seem fusty by comparison. But, as Ardee shows, the simple, chewy pleasures of lumpy coconut cookies are still formidable. Especially when you melt 12 ounces of chocolate into them.
Viennese crescents, aka Mexican wedding cookies, by Shiral: The history of these treats is shrouded in either mystery or geographic tomfoolery, but the tender, nutty, buttery, powder-sugary cookies either from Vienna or Mexican weddings (or half a dozen other alleged starting points) are here made even lovelier by infusing the powdered sugar with vanilla.
"Marzipan" fruits by Theresa Rice: When she was a girl, before she went to Europe to find that all those adorable marzipan fruits were actually made of almond paste, Theresa and her mother would spike butter cookie dough with almond extract and food coloring and shape them into fabulous little mini fruits of their own. Here, she shows us how, a sort of "art therapy for bakers," as she puts it.
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AND NOW FOR THIS WEEK'S CHALLENGE:
Last year around this time, we asked for cocktails and drinks to help frazzled holiday hosts calm their nerves before the onslaught of friends, loved ones and relatives they are obligated to invite. (The winning cocktail, appropriately, was called the "Forgive and Forget.")
Well, it's been a doozy of a year since then, and we expect there will be much more drinking to be done before the guests arrive, after they leave, and sure enough, well into the next year when the new Congress gets to town. So help us out this week with a drink festive enough to enjoy while preparing for or recovering from the holidays, and strong enough to get us through the winter.
Be sure to tag your posts: SKC winter drinking (Please note that by participating, you're giving Salon permission to re-post your entry if it's chosen as a winner, and acknowledging that all words and images in your post are your own, unless explicitly stated. Adaptations of existing recipes are fine, but please let us know where the original comes from. And if you'd like to participate but not have your post considered for republication on Salon, please note it in the post itself. Thanks!)
Scoring and winning
Scores will be very scientific, given for appealing photos, interesting stories behind your submissions, creativity, and execution.