Meringue Cookies and ShellsBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterMeringue cookies or shells are so easy to make, can be used in a variety of ways, and keep for weeks when stored in an air tight container. This recipe calls for vanilla extract, but any flavor may be used. I love adding Nielsen & Massey Rosewater Extract, or their Orange Blossom Extract. You may also add a bit of instant Espresso powder of finely chopped chocolate. Get as creative as you like, just remember to add the extracts towards the last part of the preparation. Adding any extracts too early in the process can keep the egg white from forming nice stiff peaks. When forming the cookies or the shells, it's easiest to use a pastry bag fitted with either a plain or star tip. If you feel you need a bit extra help in forming somewhat exact sizes, try drawing circles of ovals of the desired size on the underside of your parchment paper and use that as a template when piping the meringue.Simple Vanilla Buttercream FrostingBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis is a very basic, very simple buttercream frosting. It works well if you don't have the time for the Italian or Swiss versions. You can change it a bit with adding different extracts, in addition to the Vanilla like Mint or Lemon, and even add a touch of food coloring. Also try adding a 1/4 cup of cream cheese instead of the sour cream for a bit different flavor and slightly different texture.Basic Savory PastryBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis is another in a series of basic pastry doughs. It is used mainly in savory dishes like quiche, the rice and vegetable tart and meat or chicken pot pies. The dough can be made ahead, refrigerated for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to a month, or several months if you use a food saver vacuum sealer. As with most pastry doughs of this type, it is best when worked as little as possible, and that all ingredients be very cold. When rolling out the dough, you should be able to see small pieces of butter. This will ensure that it will be tender and flakey when baked.Classic Pate Choux PasteBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterThis is the classic choux paste that has been around since the 1500's, and is the base for eclairs, cream puffs, profiteroles, gougeres and more. It is not difficult to make as long as you keep to a few simple rules. The liquid must be heated to a full boil, the flour must be completely incorporated and cooked for one minute to get rid of the raw flour taste, and the paste must be mixed and baked while still warm. The baked outcome is sort of magical in that these few simple ingredients puff up crisp on the outside, hallow on the inside and can be filled with just about anything. Have fun and be creative. Pâte BriséeBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterPâte Brisée is a basic pastry dough that is buttery and flaky. It is important that you do not overmix, as the dough will become tough and dense. If mixed properly, you should see small pieces of butter throughout the dough. The dough should feel smooth and have a satin like finish. When I make this dough, I generally make two or three full recipes and freeze using my food saver. So convenient to just pull it from the freezer for a quick tart, pie or quiche. This recipe calls for sugar, but the dough can be used for both sweet or savory. Simpley delete the sugar if using for a savory recipe.Italian Style Besciamella SauceBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterBesciamella or Béchamel helps to create some of our favorite dishes and sauces. Its creamy consistency can be used alone, or enhanced with any number of ingredients. Add cheeses, spices, herbs, tomato, or wine and turn on your creative cooking mind. Béchamel is considered one of the "Mother" sauces of French cuisine, but equally popular in cooking all around the world. This recipe is the Italian version, Besciamella, and contains Parmesan cheese, but the classic Béchamel does not. Almond Pâte SabléeBy Marjorie Perotti-BrewsterPâte Sablée is one of a line of classic pastry crusts. You can use all flour, or as in this version, substitute ground nuts for part of the flour. The crust has a butter cookie like crunch, rather than the flakiness of its sister pasty crust Pâte Brisée.