Millionaire’s Shortbread and Citrus Salad

20170129_225944718_ios

For this weekend’s dessert bake I made Millionaire’s Shortbread from the Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I had never really heard of these. They are apparently a rich British cookie.

I selected this recipe because I actually had all the ingredients called for exactly. This is a rare thing for Cook’s recipes and my pantry. I also followed the recipe verbatim. This is very unusual for me. When cutting the bars I did get cracked chocolate so I am not sure what happened there.

This recipe is from the November & December 2016 magazine. I tried to get the link but one has to subscribe to get this recipe. I have the magazine and it is on page 14-15. It’s a possibility that I can subscribe on-line because I have a subscription to the magazine but I have no clue as to how. Oh well! That being said, I don’t know if I should actually share the recipe? It’s not really mine to share!

A tray of these will go with Hubby to work to share with his co-workers, and I will take a plate as well to share with mine. The rest we will keep to nibble on for a bit of sweet during our week.

Speaking of Cook’s Illustrated, I did make their Citrus Salad with Arugula, Golden Raisins and Walnuts. The link is here, Citrus Salad. This was labor intensive to prepare the 2 grapefruits and 3 oranges. One had to peel, take all the pith off, remove seeds and slice. I used regular raisins because that is what I had on hand. It looks really nice.

20170115_223700226_ios

I used green onions in the dressing instead of scallions. I dressed the fruit and then spooned it on the greens. I thought then that I could have a nice citrus fruit salad to serve with cottage cheese for lunch or breakfast on the following day. But noooo…

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • several green onions, white and green parts
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
  • a pinch of salt

The dressing was very nice. The salad was refreshing the evening I served it.But the next day the fruit tasted odd. Not good. Odd, as in maybe it went bad, odd? Next time I will keep all three parts separate and mix together only when ready to serve and only what will be eaten at that particular meal. I will make the dressing alone and use that for salads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

“Daddy” cookies

The second batch of cookies I made this year was the last batch. I was going to make a chocolate chip cookie with dark chocolate and dried cherries but never got around to it. Maybe next year…which is right around the corner!

The fully loaded oatmeal cookie was a request of Hubby several years ago. Last year I did not make any so I thought I should make them this year. Cook’s Illustrated magazine (September&October 2016) published an Oatmeal Cookie recipe claiming it was chewier, moister, and easier to make than the standard from the Quaker canister. So I decide to give it a try.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional); okay, so I put in one cup M&Ms, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup peanut butter chips! This may have affected the outcome…

375 degrees F. Line pans with parchment paper.

Whisk the first three ingredients together and set aside. Melt butter in a skillet over medium high heat until foaming subsides and scrape and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes. Immediately transfer to a large heatproof bowl. Stir in cinnamon. Add the sugars until combined. Add the egg, the yolk, and the vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, then oats and raisins. Stir until evenly distributed. Mixture will be stiff.

Divide dough into 20 pieces. Flatten them slightly with a flat bottomed glass. At this point I made a dozen cookies with the intent of making more later. So I put the remaining dough in the refrigerator. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8-10 minutes. They do not spread out much during baking.

20161216_165855490_ios

These tasted great and were perfect per Hubby. I baked another batch a few days later and had to mash the dough between my palms to get it to form balls. The dough seemed more like an oatmeal cookie granola. They baked up pretty well with a few cracks. It is possible, in all fairness to Cook’s Illustrated, that the triple amount of additives (chips, fruit, etc) was the cause of the granola effect. The melting of the butter made the mixing possible without a mixer and added a butterscotch-y taste to the batter, what batter there was. Will I use this recipe again? Probably, but not as a favorite. I find the Quaker canister recipe perfectly good and simple enough.

The second batch was sent to my favorite Airman, fresh out of Basic Training!

20161222_175548264_ios

 

Cookie baking time…Molasses Sugar Cookies

20161211_133025064_ios

One weekend morning I got out stuff to bake cookies. There are chocolate chips, dried cherries, oats and much more. What cookies to bake? Without much thought I pick three recipes. Here’s the first.

This is on a half sheet of paper I put in my recipe notebook to try. It is from some person, somewhere, in some HR department, in some company, that submitted it most likely for one of those promotional cookbook fundraisers. But it seems like the cookbook never materialized.

  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg

Melt the butter. Let cool. Add the sugar, molasses, and egg, beating well.

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk the dry ingredients together. Add to the wet ingredients in the mixing bowl and mix until combined (I just read a kitchen hint that said not to over-mix cookie dough or the cookies will end up tough).

Chill the batter for 1-2 hours or overnight. Roll into balls. Be sure these are even in size. The size will determine the baking time as well, smaller is shorter. Roll each ball in sugar and place on greased cookie sheet or parchment paper. press flat with a flat bottomed glass. Not too flat. 1/4 inch is suggested. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 375 F.

20161213_221345298_ios

I baked these for 8 minutes. They are crisp but bendable out of the oven. These will go nicely with hot cocoa or a tall glass of milk. One could even make them into sandwich cookies with a good buttercream…or ice cream!

I thought I might roll this dough up into logs and slice them for baking for ease but that would mean they would not be rolled in the sugar. So after baking one pan of cookies I rolled the remaining dough in a log and put it in the freezer. I could have formed a bunch of dough balls and froze them but I was in the middle of making dinner. I think I will roll the log in colored sugar and slice for baking the next batch.

dark o’ moon

These cookies I found in my Mom’s recipe notebook. I do not remember them but my sister does. I wonder if my niece does?

easter weekend 001

I wanted to make cut out cookies for granddaughter to decorate for Easter. I had been looking at this recipe and thought I would give it a go. It’s a pretty straight forward cookie recipe. The way my mother typed it out assumes the cook knows how to make cookies.So I cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla, then the dry ingredients. Divide the dough about in half and add the cocoa to one half. Now comes the fun part!

I have sent Hubby down to the basement to find the bags of cookie cutters. I rummage around and find the Easter cookie cutters amidst the dinosaurs, the nativity scene (oh yeah, just wait til next Christmas!), regular Christmas shapes, cats. big feet, etc.

easter weekend 007I put the dough wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge for 15-30 minutes so it will be chilled enough to roll out well. I roll out each of the doughs and cut out four of each shape that I want. Now you put the shapes on top of each other. Now I have used quite a bit of flour to roll out and cut the shapes. How are these supposed to stick together? I text my sister to see if she has any advice. But since she doesn’t answer right away I go ahead and put the cookies in to bake.

My sister finally texted (this is a 21st century word) back saying Mom just stacked them and baked them.”Perhaps a little egg white wash?” But I’m thinking Mom didn’t use egg wash! She may have but I did not know about it.

The cookies just bake up together:

These get packed up and taken to Daughter’s house for the Easter weekend. I pack the three packs of food dye and the container of powdered sugar as well. And let’s not forget the kitchen paint brush. Now comes the fun part!

And then the best part:

easter weekend 038
Eating cookies with Grandpop!

 

Pecan Tarts: possibly utter failure!

In the past I have made a Pecan Pie Bar found in a magazine ad recipe. They are very well received when I make them. They have more of a traditional pecan pie topping made with corn syrup. This recipe for Pecan Tarts I have found among my mother’s recipe cards. It appealed to me because it does not use corn syrup in the filling. These are the cute little pecan pie-looking cookies. They are also known as Pecan Tassies and there are all kinds of recipes all over the internet. The newspaper clipping that my mom saved adds a note at the end: “By all means spray the tins with Pam for easy removal.”

A year or so ago I purchased a set of mini muffin tins to replace the ones I had that were beginning to rust. These cost me all of a $1 at a tag sale, (Garage Sale for those of us from the Midwest.) This will be the first time use of these pans.

This is a cream cheese short-crust filled with a pecan butterscotch/caramel filling. A short crust is made without a leavening agent. For the crust:

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 6 ounces of cream cheese at room temperature
  • 2 cups flour

Blend butter and cream cheese and add in flour. Work with hands to bring together as a dough, then chill. The recipe clipping does not say how long to chill so I will put it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

pecan tarts 016

I think I have come up with a nifty way to shape these into the muffin tins: the small end of my mortar, or is it the pestle. Be right back while I “google” it. ….(a few seconds passing)… It’s the pestle!

I also decide to divide the dough into exactly 36 pieces. The recipe said it made 3-4 dozen.

pecan tarts 017

Now for the filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

I mix this all together with my KitchenAid. Did I tell you the story of this Mixer? It is one I will always cherish. It was a time when I was going through my divorce, being a single parent with middle school aged children, working per diem, and just trying to adjust. Suddenly there appeared a large box delivered to my door. This was the KitchenAid Mixer. Just there. It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day. It came from my brother-in-law and sister. When I called her she said it was her husband’s idea as he thought I could use something nice. Bless him! So whenever I think of one of the most thoughtful things that someone has done for me, this is the event that comes to mind.

pecan tarts 025

The recipe clipping said to sprinkle the pecans in the tart shells, add some filling, then sprinkle more pecans on top.  I just put all the pecans in the mixture.

Bake this for 15 minutes at 350, reduce heat to 250 and bake another 10 minutes.

Ugly, ugly, ugly!

pecan tarts 028

I clearly filled them too full. I use a soup spoon to lift them out of the tins after running a knife around the edges. They are underbaked. The Great British Baking Show judges would be very disappointed and I would not get to be Star Baker! (Possibly the soggy bottom!)

I continue with the third pan after scrubbing it and spraying the entire top with cooking spray. I try not to fill these as full. Meanwhile I rack my brain to figure out how to save the first two pans. I decide to put them back in the oven to continue baking for 5 minutes. This may be salvation.

pecan tarts 030
the bottoms are now baked

Second batch looks a little prettier, or less ugly, whichever your perspective. I also put them back in the oven for five more minutes on a baking sheet. Here they are, for better or for worse. They taste like pecan pies.

So this was an experience for sure. If using this recipe again I will divide it into 48 pieces, use a teaspoon to fill the tart shells, and leave them in the oven at 350 for the full 25 minutes, if not 30.

I like pecan pie. Maybe my next effort will be a cranberry-pecan pie, or the buttermilk pecan pie. That is a good one as it has the crunch of the pecans with the creaminess of a custard.

Happy Baking to all, and be sure to have fun in the kitchen!

 

Cookies and more cookies…

chococookies 003

I need to get back to making my Christmas cookies. Why? Because I want lots of cookies. That’s what Christmas is all about. Cookies and fudge. Well there is of course the Christian-ness of Christmas but these essays are about the food part! Thus far I only have a molasses cookie, Rob Roy, and Santa’s Whiskers. I have not been making a cookie batch each weekend. But now that I am homebound with my broken ankle, I can wheel around my kitchen and put some batches together.

I want a chocolate cookie. I looked at several of you bloggers’ cookie postings as well as my Mom’s notebooks. I had a list from her recipe file but have not chosen to make all of those anymore. There were a lot of good looking cookies to choose from. I settled on a Chocolate cookie that Mom notes are a good drop cookie. Although the title is Chocolate Coconut the coconut is only used as a garnish. I think I will use my homemade mint extract in the frosting and roll is sprinkles. I have a lot of sprinkles and red and green sugars from Christmases past.

chococookies 004

While perusing Mom’s recipes I find another Betty Crocker “How to” booklet. “How to make the perfect cooky”. This one is from 1966. And there is another quiz on the back to rate your bake.

 

chococookies 006

 

The chocolate cookie recipe that I chose is for sandwiching. It bakes up cake-like similar to the molasses cookie.

  • ½ cup soft shortening: I use butter;
  • 1 cup sugar; 2 eggs;
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla;
  • 2 cups sifted flour: I don’t bother with sifting;
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder;
  • ½ teaspoon salt; ½ teaspoon soda;
  • ½ cup cocoa;
  • 1 cup buttermilk: I make sour milk by putting 1 Tablespoon of white vinegar in the measuring cup and adding milk to the one cup mark.

This mixes up the ordinary way: cream butter and sugar, add eggs, one at a time, add vanilla and dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Of course one has whisked the dry ingredients thoroughly in a separate bowl prior to this step. The batter is very cake-like as it comes together. Bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees F.

They are mostly uniform in size. I now need a frosting. I will just make a vanilla buttercream. I had a lengthy and interesting conversation with my sister, a fellow avid cookie baker, about buttercream and how sweet it is, too sweet for some. She tells me about her internet research into buttercreams and directs me to this blog: http://thetoughcookie.com/2015/06/07/how-to-make-flour-buttercream-or-ermine-buttercream-the-battle-of-the-buttercreams-2-0/

  • 4 1/2 Tab flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teas vanilla

I read the blogger’s series all about this testing and improving Butter-creams. I am just going to use the Vanilla Flour Buttercream recipe to fill cookies and not go through the more work of making the German Buttercream.

I was looking at this Buttercream and comparing it to the Chocolate Velvet Frosting I made for the Birthday Cake. It is the same pudding principle. One cooks the sugar, flour, and milk into a pudding, let cool, and proceed with the butter and flavorings.

afterThanksgivingCakeHumility 008The improvement that the blogger made in adding the “pudding” to the beaten butter could be done to the Chocolate Velvet and would have made it less pudding like and creamier. So it should be possible to make this buttercream with water and cornstarch if need be. The frosting I made today is with soy milk for the lactose intolerant of my family members.

I have been baking all my life and still have lots to learn.

notebook 001

 

What I do need to do is get these notebook pages in acid-free sheet protectors sooner rather than later, particularly now that I have started using them again.

Santa’s Whiskers

Interesting name for a cookie. Will they look like Santa with a beard? I don’t think so.

Here are the ingredients from my Mom’s recipe clipping:

1 Cup butter; 1 Cup sugar; 2 Tab. milk; 1 tsp vanilla; ½ Cup chopped pecans; 2 ½ Cups flour; ¾ Cup chopped red and green candied cherries; ¾ Cup flaked coconut

First of all I am not adding the pecans. Second I am using red and green M&Ms instead of the candied cherries. Not sure how those will slice but we’ll see. And I am going to use coconut oil instead of butter. So these are an experiment. I should actually internet research the coconut oil in baking before proceeding. So hold on and I’ll be back!

santaswhiskers 001
the ingredients

I’m back! So I am going to make these in a drop cookie style rolled in coconut instead of rolling them in logs and then slicing them. Coconut oil apparently makes a softer chewier cookie than butter based on its melting point. These should spread out faster so I will still chill the dough before baking.

I have been deliberately listening to Christmas music. Yea, yea, I know it’s not even Thanksgiving yet. I used to get all my cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. Then a few years ago I found I have to work really hard at finding the Christmas spirit. So I am just going to revel in the fun, joyful, inspiring music, both classical and contemporary. Hah! Or should that be, Ho! These songs are fun, and don’t forget Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song. I don’t know much about Kwanzaa but celebrating joy and the trials and triumphs of our shared humanity can’t do any harm, can it? And if we follow old Ebenezer: “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

So I’m making Christmas cookies. For these cookies it is very important to measure out the exact amount of M&Ms that is needed for the recipe. This is exactly 3/4 cup. This is absolutely necessary so that you know how many you can snack on while mixing up the dough. Yes, indeed!santaswhiskers 002

I was thinking this was a Vegan recipe except it calls for two tablespoons of milk. I don’t have non-dairy milk in the house. I am not sure how non-dairy milks like almond and soy work as a substitute in baking but for this small amount it shouldn’t have a large effect, I would think.

santaswhiskers 003

santaswhiskers 004
shape the dough into balls and roll in coconut

the dough is crumbly so I add one more tablespoon of milk (I don’t remember if I added both tablespoons in the first place!)

I baked these at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. They did not look like they were getting done. I flattened them slightly with the spatula and baked them for another 3 minutes.

“Too sweet” were the first words out of hubby’s mouth after taking a bite. They are sweet and tasty. Maybe that is good so a couple with cold milk will suffice.

Happy Christmas planning. Advent is coming. Don’t forget St. Nicholas Day is coming up. December 6th. Put your shoes out and those good little girls and boys will find candy and a toy in the morning, and the rest of us…maybe we’ll get a coal shaped piece of candy!!

Joy to the World!