Tag Archives: holiday

The Gentleman Caller Custom Candle

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Ok, people. It’s a week out from Christmas and we ain’t got a second to waste. I am going to spit this one at you so fast your head will spin.

This is part one of a two-parter. The complete idea is a holiday window spray with custom candles and pine boughs. However, you can make these candles as gifts and things. They are very pretty and not labor intensive.

Let’s do this.

What you need:

  • pillar candle (wax, not soy)
  • wax paper
  • scotch tape
  • iPad or other device or a printer
  • tissue paper that matches your candle
  • piece of holiday ribbon that sheds glitter like crazy or actual glitter (the thinking behind this being that if you use the glitter from your ribbon it will match the ribbon in the spray exactly. This will make more sense in part 2.)
  • blow dryer
  • Sharpie

There are a plethora of sites that allow you to create a monogram in different fonts. Find a combination you like. Size it to scale for your candle. There isn’t a right and wrong here. Use your eyeballs and your noodle.

Either print a copy or just lay a piece of printer paper on a mobile device and trace.

Lay the tissue paper on top of the design. Tape the edges to avoid slippage. Trace the design again.**

**For a VERY refined design, you can get an 8.5″x11″ piece of card stock and tape a piece of tissue paper on that and run it through your printer. I think it’s fun to do the work by hand. Machines are clinical. Beyond that, you could do ANY design this way with a printer, including photos. For now I am doing a monogram.

Cut the design out very close to its edges.

Center it on the pillar candle. Be certain it is straight.

Pull enough wax paper off the roll to cover the circumference of the pillar. Tape tightly into place. VERY tight.

Put your blow dryer on high heat. Hold the dryer very close to the candle, allow the two surfaces to bind together. You’ll see ripples in the wax paper as the wax melts. If you don’t see ripples, it’s not hot enough.

Peel away the wax paper. The design should be firmly stuck to the candle.

Embellishment time! Get another piece of wax paper. With your hands, simply rub the glitter off the ribbon you’ve selected and allow it to deposit into the waiting wax paper.

Roll the candle up in the glitter paper tightly. Repeat the hair dryer step. This should leave your candle all glitter-ized.

Now give it as a gift or enjoy yourself.

And don’t forget, Santa is watching, you bad children.

All for now.

The Gentleman Caller

The Gentleman Caller’s Linzer Cookie

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Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Welcome back, you crazy carolers!

Alright, I am outing myself here. I am a cookie monster. I have been known to take a cookie to bed with me, and that’s not a euphemism. I could eat a cookie every day. During Trip of Love, given it’s proximity to Schmackary’s, NYC’s most renowned cookie purveyor, I DID eat a cookie almost every day.

My family has a long tradition of making several varieties of holiday cookie, some more notorious than others. There’s this one particular variety that are green butter cookie Christmas trees that – well, let’s just say there is a lot of green food dye in them and you might have a surprise the next morning.

While we’ve always made cookies, we didn’t do the Linzer traditionally. However, I have always thought them pretty and elegant. And perfectly seasonal. So I did a little development and here I present The Gentleman’s Linzer cookie.

What you need:

  • 2 sticks of butter – 16 tablespoons, softened OR 1 stick – 16 tablespoons of butter flavor Crisco + 6 tablespoons water**
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • strawberry (or your favorite red colored) jam (http://thegentlemancaller.net/the-gentlemans-momma-end-of-summer-strawberry-jam-video/)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

**I know I sound like a Crisco salesman, and yes, it is not good for you, but it makes a flakier cookie.

Preheat oven to 375.

In the bowl of your mixer, beat butter and sugar to cream, about 4 minutes. While creaming, sift flour and salt together. To the mixer add the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer off. Spoon in the flour and salt mixture and stir to combine. This dough is stiff. If it’s especially dry in your house from radiant heat, or you live in Las Vegas or something, you might need a tablespoon of water. Humidity makes a difference in a stiff cookie.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Take about a 2 cup ball of dough and roll it out on the parchment to 1/8 of an inch. Thin is your friend. Use a biscuit cutter to stamp out circles. Remove excess dough and reuse in the next batch you roll out. Use a smaller cookie cutter (or soda bottle cap or something else like that) to stamp out a relief in the middle. Reuse that dough as well. Not everyone has all these shapes and cutters. Be resourceful, you just need two shapes, one bigger than the other.

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Bake for 7 minutes. Check them. They should not get brown, only barely gold-ish. Watch them fastidiously.

Keep baking in batches. Allow them to cool.

Spread the tops (the ones with the hole in the middle) on wax paper. Put the powdered sugar in your sifter and dust the tops gently.

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Spread the jam on the bottom halves. Squish the two together.

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OPTIONS:

  • Cut the vanilla extract to 1 teaspoon. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract and use cherry jam instead of strawberry jam. Delicious.
  • To the dry ingredients, add 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon cardamom. Use orange marmalade instead of strawberry jam. Spicy.

These are very impressive on the plate and will impress people if you gift them. But good luck not eating them all yourself, says the self proclaimed cookie monster.

That’s all for now.

xoxo,

The Gentleman Caller

THE GENTLEMAN CALLER’S LINZER COOKIE

The Donkey in the Manger, aka The Gentleman’s Holiday Mule

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Hello, holiday revelers!

I’m about to knock your stockings off with a donkey kick to the palate with my Holiday Mule.

Do you know what a pomander is? It’s when you take an orange and shove cloves in its skin in a decorative way. We used to make them when I was a kid. Very aromatic. This was my inspiration for this beverage.

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Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup whole cloves
  • oranges
  • vodka
  • ginger beer**
  • club soda
  • orange bitters

Combine water, sugar, and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for 20 minutes. While that’s cooking, use a vegetable peeler to take the outer skin off the orange.

At the end of the 20 minutes, add the orange peel to the saucepan and remove from heat. Allow to steep and cool. Reserve a peel or two for garnish. Strain the solids out of the syrup once cool.

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Fill your mule glass with ice. A traditional mule is copper with a handle. I found this ridiculously cute one at Pier One Imports.

To the ice add:

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce cooled clove-orange syrup
  • 1 ounce fresh orange juice (if not using fresh, reduce to 1/2 ounce)
  • 2 ounces ginger beer**
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • dash of orange bitters

**ginger beer has no alcohol. Make this kid and Designated Driver friendly by simply eliminating the vodka.

Swirl with a spoon to get everything happily married. Toss a reserved orange peel on top and chug-a-lug from that sweet copper mug!

I’m certain this will become one of your holiday staples.

Enjoy in moderation.

xoxo,

The Gentleman Caller

THE DONKEY IN THE MANGER, AKA THE GENTLEMAN’S HOLIDAY MULE

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Make Your Own $80 wreath for less than $8

Knock knock knock.
Gentleman Caller.

Know what’s expensive? Christmas!

Now don’t misunderstand, I am more than accustomed to emptying my wallet for a pair of $1000 sneakers or a ridiculously overpriced backpack, but if I can save money on something, I will. Someone I was very close to used to say, “Austin, you will drive across town to save a nickel on an orange.” Accurate! What can I say? It’s my legacy. My great-grandmother was a Scot, like, off the boat immigrant. Scots are cheap. Ahem, frugal.

So when it came time to decorate for Christmas this year, I was confronted with two realities. If you invest in artificial pine things you have to STORE THEM. If you buy real throw away pine things, you still pay an arm and a leg and then you chuck it in the bin on January 2. Both of those options seemed unacceptable.

I live next to a Whole Foods. Like there would be no asking my neighbor for a cup of sugar because my neighbor is Whole Foods. I noticed they had put up a makeshift Christmas tree lot and the guys who worked there were trimming branches off the trees and putting them in the trash. Hmm…

So I decided to ask them for branches. Worst thing they could do is say no. But they didn’t, so up to my apartment I trekked, loaded down with two great arms full of aromatic fresh pine boughs. I got out a 5 gallon bucket and put some water in it. I put the ends of the branches in the water until I was ready to work with them to keep them nice and verdant.

As pretty as my pine branches were, I wanted to amend with some other varieties of plant. Cypress, juniper, boxwoods. You’d be surprised how many overgrown shrubs you see when you are thinking about gathering branches. So I started asking people: May I trim your shrubs? An odd request, I admit. But it worked and I came home with a sack full of cypress, juniper, and boxwood. If I had been in Texas, I would have used those waxy leaves from magnolia trees. That would be gorgeous. Maybe next year.

Now to construct a foundation. I just used three layers of stiff cardboard. I turned a round table upside down and traced a big circle. I then found a mixing bowl and traced the internal circle. I had about 3 inches of width to work with.

I hot glued the layers together. I brushed on some acrylic paint, but I mixed white and dark green together as I brushed so that it had dimension.

We have arrived at the Dollar General portion of this project. So far we have spent about zero dollars, especially if you have old paints available.

Your dollar store is going to have everything else you need. Fine gauge wire, a couple feet of ribbon and a handful of ornaments.

Now let’s build. I would advise that you either do this outdoors, in your garage, or put down a plastic sheet or something. This project is messy.

Lay your foundation on a flat surface. Cut about 8-10 inches of branch and just start layering, working backward. Branch, wire, branch, wire. At first you are probably going to think Wow, this looks like some kind of shitty 3rd grade arts and crafts project. Keep at it. Fill it out as you go. If you make the circumference of the wreath and it looks anemic, get more branches and keep shoving. You can continue shoving supplemental branches in existing wire. Do that until you reach the desire fullness.

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Embellishment time. I cut 10-inch segments of ribbon and hot glued the ends to the back of the wreath on opposing sides. Then I wired clusters of ornaments together and wired them into the greenery. It’s basically like decorating a tree. Be creative.

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In all honesty, I almost pulled all the ornaments off after I put them on because the simple greenery itself was really stunning. You be the judge. Sometimes less is more.

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Time to hang. I had a hole available on my door that I could easily put a wire through. You might need a 3M hook or something like that. I am sure you can figure it out.

Here we are at the end. I spent about $4. Not bad indeed.

Now get to work! Send me photos of your endeavors!

Out for now,

The Gentleman Caller

 

Spiced Up Holiday Apple Pie

Printable PDF at the bottom of the page!

Knock knock knock.

Gentleman Caller.

Happy Holidays, Ho Ho Hos. I am back with another treat for your holiday table that’s gonna send you straight to the treadmill January 2nd. But we’re American, that’s what we do. So cook, enjoy, celebrate, and don’t fret right now. Eat PIE.

My Granny was an exceptional pie maker, and she passed on her skills to my Aunt Marcie, who is also an exceptional pie maker, my sisters and my stepmom Laurie. Laurie was so determined to become a pie master that she had Granny give her a full instructional kitchen seminar and Laurie video-taped it. Maybe I should get ahold of that video and post it here! On second thought, maybe not because my Granny is really cute and someone would probably see it and put her on TV.

There’s a different pie for every palate, but one enduring classic and likely favorite of most people is apple. Here I will provide you a spiced up version guaranteed to delight your guests and their taste buds with its aroma, looks, and deliciousness.

What you need:

  • One recipe of The Gentleman’s Perfect Pie Crust http://thegentlemancaller.net/perfect-pie-crust/
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • about 8 apples (3 lbs.) ideally a mix of greens and reds (Granny Smiths & Fujis are my ideal combination)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh nutmeg*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves*
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice*
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of a lemon
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 pats of butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half, beaten with one egg yolk
  • turbinado, coconut sugar or other coarse sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Zest the lemon. Cut it in half, set one half aside. Fill a large bowl halfway with water; squeeze half the lemon in the water and drop the rind in there, too. Peel apples, core, and quarter them, and put them into the mixing bowl filled with water and the half lemon squeeze.

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Process the apples in a food processor with the slice attachment. This is going to give you a consistent slice. Put your apple slices in a large bowl (you can dump the water and re-use the one you just had them in), add the flour, sugars, honey, spices, lemon zest and the juice of the other half of the lemon. Let it rest a sec. *Regarding the asterisk beside the spices, grinding or grating your own makes them more robust. If you have a grinder and a microplane grater, use them on your spices and get more flavor.

If you’ve followed the Perfect Pie Crust recipe, you should have two disks waiting for you in the refrigerator. Roll out one of your disks on a lightly floured surface and roll into a 9 inch pie plate. Trim the excess.

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Spoon the apple mixture into the bottom crust. Place the 5 pats of butter evenly dispersed on top of the apples.

Roll out your second crust. Roll on the top of the apples to cover with ample overhang.

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Using your kitchen shears, trim around the perimeter leaving about a 1/2 inch overhang. Tuck the overhang under and crimp the edges. Crimping is simply the process of smooshing the two crusts together and creating a nice looking rippled pattern.  If this isn’t something you do often, you might get a little frustrated. Stick with it; take deep breaths.

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Put 5 little vent slits  in the top crust. You may also cut a little decorative vent if you like.

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Brush the top with egg yolk and cream mixture. Sprinkle with coarse sugar.

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As you can see, I put the pie on a baking sheet with a piece of foil. Pie has a tendency to leak, and scrubbing baked sugar out of your oven is not a chore you have time for at the holidays. Or ever.

Final step pre-oven (and I should have photographed this): make 4 four inch strips of foil. Crimp them together end-to-end so that you have about a 48 inch strip of foil. Carefully place this around the perimeter so that it’s not really touching but gently resting on the crimped edge. There is a silicone tool for this process https://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/adjustable-pie-shield/1017857401?Keyword=pie+shield but foil works just as well.

Into the oven she goes!

One hour at 400 degrees. At about 45 minutes remove the foil cover on the edges. Continue baking for 15 more minutes.

Yes, your house is going to smell heavenly but you MUST allow it to rest for at least an hour after you remove it from the oven. Otherwise it’s gonna be slop pie. And you’ll probably burn your tongue on the molten sugar. So just wait, ok?

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Look at that! Don’t worry now, friends… I am going to post an easy ice cream recipe that you don’t need an ice cream machine to make very soon. Perhaps an egg nog ice cream… Pie and ice cream is an unbeatable combination.

Hope yours turns out beautifully.

That’s all for now.

xo,

The Gentleman Caller

SPICED UP HOLIDAY APPLE PIE