Sunday, December 28, 2014

Old Fashioned Johnny Cakes

I am not sure why, but I have always been a fan of historical things...antiques, old books, living history re-enactments, 1800's architecture, and so much more. I am beginning to plan my dream house, modeled after an 1800's plantation. While being wrapped up in staring at Google Images of restored older homes, my inability to focus for long periods of time, I seem to constantly end up going off on tangents to everything else from that time era. Lately my new "go to" tangent has been antique cook books. With the internet, you can get vintage cook books with a few simple clicks, ready for reading on an e-reader. Technology is a wonderful thing!

Last night, my attention wandered in the direction of breakfast foods in a 1908 cook book. While looking at the pancake recipe, I noticed a "Indian Fritter" recipe that I had to try out once I put a little effort into modernizing it. I believe they are also called Johnny Cakes in the south, which for modern day purposes and the need to be politically correct, is what I will be referring to them as.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Mince Pie

In preparation for a family Christmas, I decided to try my hand at a Mincemeat Pie. This is a heavily spiced pie that is filled with a modernized version of traditional mincemeat.

Mince Pie
makes 1 9 inch pie

prepared 2-pie crust recipe (to follow)
3/4 cup finely chopped beef, cooked
2 1/2 cup chopped apples
3/4 cup raisins (I used a mix of golden and regular)
1/4 cup candied citrus fruit peel (citron used in fruit cakes)
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
3/4 cup demerara sugar
zest and juice of 1 orange
4 oz. brandy

Preheat oven to 400. Line a 9 inch pie pan with bottom crust.

You do not have to cook the mincemeat if you do not wish to. I was in a hurry and needed to rush my pie along a little, so I tossed it all in a pot and cooked over low heat, stirring frequently, until sugar was melted and apples began to soften.

Pour into prepared pie crust. Top with second crust. Bake at 400 for about 20 minutes, until crust is nicely browned.

(If you are really late, you rush and don't even weave the lattice crust together). If doing a lattice crust, make sure to use a little egg wash to make it all stick together properly.

Simple Oil Pie Crust Recipe (again for when you're in a hurry)
makes 2 crusts

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2/3 cup  vegetable oil
3 to 6 tbsp. water or milk
Whisk together the dry ingredients. Whisk together the oil and water/milk and pour over the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until the dough is evenly moistened. Divide dough in half. Pat half the dough across the bottom of the pie pan and up the sides. A flat-bottomed measuring cup can help you make the bottom even. Press the dough up the sides of the pan with your fingers. 
With the other half of the dough, roll out on a floured surface until less than 1/4 inch thick. Either place on top of the pie whole (remember to cut a few slips for the steam to escape),  cut into strips for lattice, or cut out shapes to overlap on the top of the pie.

Flute the edges together.

Bake as required for the pie.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I want to take a moment to wish all my friends a very Merry Christmas! I hope that whatever you do on this day, rather you are religious or not, that you take a minute, sit back, relax, sip on a cup of hot chocolate, and reflect on all the positives in your life. This is the time of year to be celebrating friends, family, and all that you do have in your life.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Old Fashioned Griddle Cakes by Fannie Farmer

For years I have had an obsession with vintage recipes, or receipts as they were once called. One of my favorite recipes comes from the Boston School of Cooking Cook Book written by Fannie Merritt Farmer in 1900. Griddle Cakes. The recipe is similar to that of traditional pancakes but with a slight change in yet just different enough to be a nice switch to the breakfast menu.

These are fried in a bit of grease or butter or oil, giving them a crisp edge while the middle of the pancake is tender and moist. A must try for all pancake lovers!

Friday, December 19, 2014

TGIF! Let's Celebrate!

Less than one week until Christmas! Are you excited? I know I am!

I am looking forward to finishing my massive list of Christmas cookies that need to be baked and then spending the holiday with my family. Nothing fancy, just a good (and relaxing) time!

Here is hoping y'all have finished all your holiday shopping and that you get to spend Christmas with those who mean the most to you!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Anisscheiben (Self-Frosting Anise Drops) - A German Cookie

There is something magical about these little cookies. They are made from a simple batter but with a lot a waiting, they turn into these delicious cookies that have a meringue type frosting, a chewy center, and a crisp bottom. There are a few secrets to getting these to turn out perfectly, which take a little practice. I am still working to make them into perfect little circles like my Grandmother could.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Pfeffernüsse (Peppernuts) - A German Cookie

For as long as I can remember my family has made the same cookies every holiday season. Almost all of the cookies are ones that my grandmother made every year, without fail. Honestly, I have never figured out how she managed to make all the cookies that she did. She baked for not only for the family she'd have over for Christmas, but everybody got to leave with a huge box of cookies, at least a dozen of each kind. She had to have made at least triple, if not quadruple, batches of every cookie.

My grandmother lived with us when I was in high school and I got to spend the last 3 years of her life working in the kitchen with her at Christmas to make all these wonderful cookies. While I was in college my dad took over the Christmas cookies. No matter how much he tried, they just never came out right. My mom tried too. She failed even worse. Once I moved out of my parents' house, I took over the Christmas cookies. I have been baking for a week already and am only half done with the list of Christmas cookies. I'm pretty sure I've also gained at least 5 pounds already.

One of my favorite cookies are these little spiced cookies that are extremely hard and require a hot beverage to drip them in. Translated from German they are called Peppernuts.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Aebleskivers - Danish Pancake Balls

A friend recently recommended I check out Cast Iron Cooking, a group on Facebook for Cast Iron everything. I must say, since I joined the group last week, I have become a little addicted. The amount of awesome pictures, recipes, and just pieces of cast iron is AMAZING.

It just amazes me when you sit and read about people still using these 100+ year old skillets that are in absolutely perfect condition. I have a decent amount of cast iron items in my cookware collection, however it does not see frequent use because of my small kitchen and storage issues with it. I cannot wait to have a bigger kitchen so that I can make good use of the pieces I have.

This morning's breakfast was inspired by several recent inquires on the group regarding an Aebleskiver Pan. These wonderful little pancake balls are most common in Denmark although they exist in many countries. To the Dutch, they are poffertjes. Munker in Norway. They even reach as far as Japan, where they are savory instead of sweet and called Takoyaki.

Whatever you call them, they are delicious!

Friday, December 12, 2014

TGIF! Let's Celebrate!

Only 3 Fridays left in the year. I am not sure whether to be excited or sad at this fact. Time seems to slip away so quickly these days. Where can I resign being an adult?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Triple Berry Cherry Pie

With Christmas fast approaching, I am beyond ready to be stuffing my face with Christmas dinner and all the wonderful desserts and treats that go along with it. Tonight, I tried out a delicious pie that incorporated a variety of "left over" fruit I had in the freezer. It seems like although I freeze things in 1 quart containers, I always end up with about 3/4 cup left in the containers. This pie is a great way to use up those little odds and ends hiding out in the freezer. I used 3 types of berries and some tart cherries, but you could use any fruit as long as the total comes out to the 4 cups.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fried Apples

It's a great fall morning, I am up early than necessary to await on a repairman who will show up between 8 and 5. Since I have to be up, I might as well be productive and making something yummy to eat.

Upon inspection of a mostly empty fridge, I decided on some buttermilk pancakes topped with fried apples. I know you can open a can and just heat them, but homemade fried apples are just so amazing! You must make them!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Tuscan White Bean Soup

There is nothing like a good bowl of hot, steamy soup after a long stressful week. Minimal effort and delicious results. Soup also has a ton of wonderful bonuses. It's cheap, even if you go organic with it. It is easy to make large quantities and it freezes exceptionally well! It's filling if accompanied with a bit of homemade bread. And best of all, it's absolutely delicious and packed with so many vitamins and other nutrients.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Berry Mug Muffin

Today is one of the rare days that I find myself home alone at breakfast time. Even my cats abandoned me this morning.

I am now curled up with a book, this deliciously simple "muffin", and a over-sized cup of coffee. A great start to a relaxing day home alone!

Friday, December 5, 2014

TGIF! Let's Celebrate!

The first Friday of December! I can hardly believe that in 20 days (less than 3 weeks!) it will be Christmas!

I am up early, preparing to head off in search of cooking ingredients. Since I make close to 36 dozen cookies, plus some candies, I have to double check everything to make sure I have everything I need written down. I know that I will be getting strange looks from the lady at the checkout, every year I get questioned about why I am buying such massive quantities of flour, sugar, sprinkles, spices, extracts, pounds of butter, and eggs.

I got my tree up and decorated last night. I feel like I am one of the few who still waits until after Thanksgiving to start on Christmas. Am I really all alone in thinking 1 holiday at a time is ok?

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Ginger Rice Pudding with Maple Syrup

Call me old fashioned. But I refuse to buy into all the hype that has become the holiday season. To me, this is the time of year for indulging in great food, great drinks, and great people. I refuse to indulge in the commercialism that has taken over the true meaning of the holidays.

While many are out, battling one another for the best deals, I'll be at home, stationed in my kitchen working on an array of delicious treats.

Today, upon reading this tutorial on The Kitchn, I decided to apply this risotto cooking method to one of my favorite dishes, rice pudding.

Monday, December 1, 2014

All Things Winter and Christmas

Although I am not a huge fan of winter, I absolutely love the holiday season and all the things associated with it. Especially the cookies. And the hot drinks. And the huge meals shared with loved ones. And anything else food related this time of year.