recipe

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

Lemon Meltaway Cookies

These cookies have a great lemon flavor and delicate texture. The cookie is so tender, in part, because there is cornstarch in the dough. I think you and your family and friends will love them as much as I do.

I will admit to adding a little more lemon zest to the dough and frosting, for even more lemon flavor.

They are also easy to make. They are a slice and bake cookie. That means you make the dough, form into a roll, and chill. Now you can just slice and bake when you have the time. I sometimes make a batch and freeze them- so I can make fresh cookies whenever I like.

We made these cookies in class last night. Everybody loved them. Perfect cookie to add to your holiday cookie tray.

 

 

Lemon Meltaways

Dough:
1 ¼ c. flour
¾ c. butter, softened
½ c. cornstarch
1/3 c. powdered sugar
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel
Frosting:
¾ c. powdered sugar
¼ c. butter, softened
1 t. lemon juice
1 t. grated lemon peel

In large bowl combine all dough ingredients and mix well. Divide dough in half and roll each half into an 8- inch roll. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm, 1-2 hours. Slice chilled dough into ¼ inch slices and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-12 minutes, or until cookies are set, but not brown. Cool completely on a rack. Combine frosting ingredients and beat until light and fluffy. Frost cooled cookies. Makes 4 dozen.

 

Old Fashioned Spritz Cookies

Spritz Cookies

Some cookies are really about the memories for me. I remember making pressed cookies when I was a kid. I loved using the machine to press out dough in all sorts of magical shapes.

My mother was so kind- she let me make whatever I wanted. One Christmas, we had a whole plateful of camels.

The machine we had required turning a handle- watching carefully, and turning the handle backwards to stop the flow of the dough. There are much easier versions of cookie presses today. Mine has a ratchet which pushes out the right amount of dough with one click. I decided to make some little green trees and red flowers this year. These cookies are light and very crisp. Great for having with coffee. They are also fast to make, once you get used to the cookie press.

The fun thing about using a cookie press is that you can crank out a high volume of pretty cookies in no time flat. They taste good, too. I used vanilla extract in the little trees. In the flowers, I added some sweet cherry flavor, which paired well with the vanilla.

 

Spritz Cookies

1 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 T. vanilla*
½ t. salt
2½ c. flour
In mixing bowl beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg. Stir in vanilla and salt. Tint dough, is desired. Add flour and stir until smooth. Using a cookie press with desired shape press cookies on to ungreased baking sheet. Leave about 1-inch between cookies. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for about 10 minutes- cookies should be a light golden color around the edges. Cool on a wire rack. Makes about 3 dozen.

 * You can play around with other flavors. I often add mint extract or a fruit flavor to these cookies.

Cranberry and Raspberry Sauce

Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce

If you are looking for a fun and tasty variation for the usual cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving, I might suggest this cranberry and raspberry version.

The raspberries add a great flavor to the dish along with the cranberries and orange juice.My family has enjoyed versions of this sauce every Thanksgiving for as long as I can remember.

The real secret however, is the dressing. It is a creamy, slightly sweet topping, made with a fruit juice custard and whipped cream. It really changes the whole dish into something special.

This might be the first time people ask for seconds on cranberry sauce.

Cranberry-Raspberry Sauce

 

12 oz. cranberries, rinsed and picked over

1 c. orange juice

1 T. grated orange peel

½ c. sugar, or to taste

12 oz. raspberries, fresh or frozen ( thawed, if frozen)

Combine all ingredients, (except the raspberries)  in a saucepan and cook, stirring often, over medium heat. Cook until then cranberries burst and mixture thickens, about 25 minutes, stirring more often as mixture thickens. Stir in the raspberries. Cool and chill. Makes about 3 cups. Serve with the dressing on the side.

Dressing

2 eggs
½ c. sugar
½ c orange juice
½ c. pineapple juice
2 T. flour
juice of half a lemon
1 c. whipping cream, whipped

Combine all ingredients, except whipped cream, in a saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Mixture should coat a spoon. Cool and chill. Fold cooled mixture into whipped cream.  Serves 6-8.

Cauliflower and Grilled Corn Gratin

Cauliflower and Grilled Corn Gratin

I made this dish for a dinner with friends this weekend. It was a big hit. The cauliflower, corn and carrots worked perfectly together. Of course, the bechamel sauce, cheese and bread crumbs didn’t hurt, either.

This dish came about because I needed a side dish and wanted to use what I had on hand. I had recently purchased a rather large head of cauliflower. I was thinking gratin, but wanted more than cauliflower so I looked to see what else I had around. Carrots seemed like a natural addition. I like their sweetness with cauliflower, plus they would add a pop of color. A trip to the freezer for something else was a lucky break.

I saw a package of corn I had recently frozen. I had been to a clambake the weekend before. They had grilled corn on the cob and had extras. I was given some to take home. Thanks, Arlene!!!

I cut the corn off the cob and used some of them in a chowder. I froze the rest, about two cups worth. I just knew that was what I need to round out the flavors in the gratin.

I was right. It was a wonderful combination. If you don’t feel like grilling corn, you can cook it under the broiler.

 

So here is the recipe. Hope you give it a try.

 

Cauliflower and Grilled Corn Gratin

 

6 c. cauliflower- broken into bite sized pieces

4 ears corn, grilled, cooled, kernels cut off the cobs- about 2 cups

3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin

4 T. butter

4 T. flour

2 ½ c. half and half, warmed

Salt and pepper to taste

4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ bread crumbs

 

Prepare cauliflower by steaming until just tender.  Steam the carrots until just tender, too. I was lucky enough to have corn that had been grilled, minus the husks, so it had a nice char on it. The smoky flavor really added to the dish. You can cook the corn under the broiler, too, to get that char. Combine the vegetables in a lightly buttered casserole dish. I used a 9×9-inch square pan. Then make the white sauce (bechamel) by melting the butter together in a pan with the flour, whisking until smooth. Stir in the half and half and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Season with salt and pepper- use enough- the veggies don’t have any salt on them. Pour the sauce over the veggies in the casserole dish and stir a little to coat evenly. Sprinkle with the cheese and then the bread crumbs. Bake in a 350 degree oven until the mixture is bubbly and the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Serves 6.

 

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

I made this cake for a cooking class the other day. Everyone loved it. No surprises there, it is a wonderful cake. A nice dessert for Thanksgiving, too.

If the only way you enjoy sweet potatoes is as a side at the holidays, or in pie, it is time to expand your thinking about them. In this recipe, the mashed sweet potatoes add both sweetness and moistness to the finished cake. Great plain, or with a dollop of whipped cream and some fresh berries.

This cake makes a lovely dessert or a nice addition to a brunch menu. Also a nice way to use up leftover mashed sweet potatoes, if you find yourself with leftovers.

I mentioned this recipe to a friend and she was very interested. I will be seeing her over the weekend and think I will make this for our dinner together.

Sweet Potato Pound Cake

1 1/2 c. cake flour*

1/2 t. each baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 c. sour cream, room temperature

1 1/3 c. sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

1/2 c. mashed sweet potato

1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly oil an 8×4-inch loaf pan. Mix flour with next 4 ingredients and set aside. In large mixing bowl beat together butter and sour cream. Beat in sugar and then beat in eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in mashed sweet potato and vanilla. Stir in dry ingredients and pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool in pan 30 minutes before loosening cake sides from pan and removing. After cake has cooled wrap in foil and store at room temperature. Serves 8.

* If you don’t have cake flour you can make your own. Simply measure out a cup of all purpose flour and remove 2 tablespoons of the flour. That is now the same as a cup of cake flour OR remove the 2 tablespoons of flour and replace them with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and sift together to combine. I do the flour/cornstarch mix and keep a batch on hand for when I need it in baking.

Green Tomato Sweet Relish

Green Tomato Sweet Relish

This sweet relish is a great way to preserve those last of the season tomatoes. It is every bit as  good as relishes made from cucumbers.

I am always a little sad to see fresh tomato season come to an end. I have canned tomatoes and dehydrated some, too.

I know the green tomatoes I have left will not have time to ripen. I don’t want them to go to waste, so I have pickled some. I also like to make this relish with some of them.

Someone asked me for the recipe- so here it is.

 

Green Tomato Sweet Relish

6 pounds green tomatoes, about 22 medium

2-3 medium onions

2 medium sweet red peppers

1 sweet green pepper

1 large rib celery

1 3/4 c. white or cider vinegar ( 5% acidity)

1 2/3 c. sugar

3 T. canning salt

1 1/2 t. celery seeds

1/2 t. each cinnamon, cloves, allspice and turmeric

1/4 t. cayenne pepper

Wash trim and quarter vegetables. Put vegetables through food grinder using medium blade or pulse in food processor to chop finely. Drain, discarding liquid. Wash jars in hot, soapy water. Rinse and set aside. Combine vinegar with remaining ingredients in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add vegetables and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Continue simmering while packing hot jars, one at a time. Fill to within 1/2 -inch from top of jar. Wipe rims and place on lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes 5-6 pint jars.

Pickled Green Tomatoes

Green Tomato Pickles

The garden season is winding down around here. A number of friends have posted pictures of their last ripe tomatoes of the year. That is a sad time. But, don’t forget about those green tomatoes. You can make fried green tomatoes, which are great. You can also make these pickles. That way, you can enjoy those home grown tomatoes a little longer.

The recipe is pretty simple. I sometimes add a teaspoon of red pepper flakes to each jar for a spicy version. The hardest part is waiting. Once the tomatoes are canned, you have to give them 4-6 weeks fopr the pickling to finish. Trust me, it is worth the wait.

Just because your ripe tomatoes are done for the year, harvest those green ones and get a little something more from your garden.

 

 

Green Tomato Dill Pickles – Kosher Style

Green tomatoes
6 ribs celery, cut in 2-inch pieces
6 Sweet green peppers
6 cloves Garlic
2 quarts water
1 quart vinegar- 5% acidity- you can use white or cider vinegar
1 cup canning or pickling salt
Dill, optional

Use small firm green tomatoes. Pack into hot, clean canning jars. Add to each quart jar a bud of garlic, 1 piece of celery, and 1 green pepper cut into fourths. Make a brine of the water, vinegar, and the salt. Boil with the dill for 5 minutes. Pour the hot brine over the pickles to within 1/2 inch of the top of the jar. Put on cap, screw band firmly tight. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. These pickles will be ready for use in 4- 6 weeks. Yield: About 6 quarts. Source: NCHFP

Homemade Pumpernickel Bread

Pumpernickel Bread

There are few aromas I like more than freshly baked bread.  I don’t bake much during the hot summer months, and look forward to cool Autumn days and fresh baked bread. I enjoy baking all sorts of breads.

For a bread baking class last night,  I made Pumpernickel Bread. The dark color comes from a mixture of rye flour, strong coffee, cocoa powder and molasses. These ingredients also give this bread a richness and texture I adore.

It’s hard for me to find a store bought Pumpernickel bread that comes close to this one. Some store bakeries rely on caramel coloring for the color in the bread. For real flavor you need the real ingredients. It really is worth the time to make your own.

 

Pumpernickel Bread

2 Packages active dry yeast

½ c. warm water

2 c. lukewarm strong coffee

¼ c. each molasses and unsweetened cocoa

2 T. Caraway seeds

2 t. salt

5-6 c. flour- I use bread flour

2 c. rye flour

Cornmeal

1 egg white, slightly beaten

 

In large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in coffee, molasses, cocoa, seeds, salt and 3 cups of flour. Beat with wooden spoon about 2 minutes. Stir in rye flour and enough of the remaining regular flour to make soft dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead until dough is smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top, cover and let rest until doubled, about 1 hour. Grease large baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.

Punch down dough, divide in 2, and form into balls. Place on baking sheet and cover. Let rise until double, brush with egg whites, slash tops and bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. Makes 2 loaves.

Beet Dumplings

Beet Dumplings

These dumplings were inspired by gnocchi. Gnocchi are wonderful little dumplings made with potatoes in the dough. I love them and make them often.

Since I had a lot of beets, I wanted to use some, to shake things up a little. I made a version with cooked beets. The color came out so vibrant.

The flavor of the beet is somewhat muted in this little dumpling. For serving, I combined the beet version with traditional gnocchi and some made from sweet potatoes. These would be a nice side dish for all sorts of dishes. I will make more and serve them with a roast chicken this weekend.

I do a very rustic version- just slice dough off into 1/2 -inch thick pieces and boil them up. These could be made ahead and frozen, too.

 

 

Beet Dumplings

2 small russet potatoes, 11-12 oz. total, peeled, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 medium/small beets, roasted, skin on, cooled
1 egg
1/4 c. whipping cream
1 1/4 t. salt
¼ t. dill weed
1 1/2 c. (about) flour
Steam potatoes over boiling water until tender, about 12 minutes. Place in bowl and mash or put potatoes through a ricer. Place in bowl and cool about 10 minutes. Remove skins from cooled beets and dice. Place beets in a food processor or blender. Add the cream and process until smooth. Combine with potatoes, egg, salt and dill and mix well. Stir in flour and combine until slightly sticky dough forms. Add more flour a tablespoon at a time if the mixture is too moist. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface and divide into 6 equal portions. Roll out 1 piece into a rope about 20-inches long by 3/4 inch. Cut dough into 3/4 -inch pieces and arrange finished dumplings in a single layer on a floured baking sheet and repeat the process with the remaining dough. Boil the dumplings in well-salted boiling water, about 1/3 at a time. Boil for 4-5 minutes. They will come to the surface and be tender. Check after 4 minutes. Serve with butter and Parmesan cheese or with your favorite sauce. Serves 6.

A Trio of Gnocchi

A Trio of “Gnocchi”

Spooky Candy Spiders

Candy Spider

This is the only kind of spider I want in my house. If you are looking for a quick spooky decoration/treat idea, you might want to make some candy spiders. These are about the size of a tarantula. Super simple and kids can make them, too. You only need a few ingredients. The body is made from marshmallows, the legs are chow mein noodles and the eyes are small candies. I used melting chocolate, but you can use any kind of chocolate you like.

 

To start, melt some chocolate. Dip the chow mein noodles in the chocolate and tap gently to remove excess. I leave one end un-dipped to make it easier to stick in the marshmallow later. Allow to harden up before going to the next step. I set them on a flexible cutting board, but wax paper is good, too. You have to peel them off later, a flexible surface is best. You’ll need 8 for each spider- so be sure to make enough. Allow for breakage.  Set a marshmallow flat side down and poke 4 holes in each side, 8 total. I used a bamboo skewer. Stick a noodle “leg” in each hole. Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow until coated. Whatever drips off can be re-melted and used again. While the chocolate is still soft, press 2 candy eyes into place. Hold them for a minute to be sure they are secure. Now, you can decorate cakes with them, use them on a dessert tray- or just eat them.

Chow mein noodle legs

Chow mein noodle legs

Insert legs into marshmallow

Insert legs into marshmallow

Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow to cover it.

Spoon chocolate over the marshmallow to cover it.

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