Vintage Ice Box Cookies

The icebox or refrigerator cookie has been around as long as there have been ‘iceboxes’ to store them in. The recipes produce large yields and are the quickest way to make ‘homemade cookies’ in a short space of time. The technique of what has also been called ‘slice & bake’ cookies, is nothing if not do-ahead and convenient. After the dough is mixed and shaped into logs, it may be either refrigerated or frozen. Then, when you’re ready to bake, simply remove the logs from the freezer; let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes, slice and bake. Just slice off as many cookies as you need; any dough you don’t use can be refrozen. For a little extra pizzaz, roll the logs before slicing in crushed nuts, colored sugar, poppy seeds or finely chopped candied fruit such as crystallized ginger. The rolls of dough will keep in the refrigerator for about three or four days or frozen for up to three months.

The icebox cookie originated  before my time but I do remember my mother making a chocolate icebox cookie with walnuts in them. Refrigeration methods had come a long way by then but the original concept of the icebox cookie never changed.

In early North America, ice was harvested from ponds and then stored in sawdust insulation to last into the summer months. In the advent of the railroad, insulated box cars hauled ice to keep foods cold in the markets and restaurants. In the early 1800’s, iceboxes were developed for home use. They were simply chests with a compartment for food and another for ice. The ice was replaced as it melted.

In the 1840’s, compression methods for making ice were developed. Eventually, new refrigerated iceboxes became common in homes. By the 1920’s recipes for icebox ‘cakes’ began appearing in cookbooks. These icebox cakes evolved into today’s time-tested, icebox cookies.

At this busy time of year, having a stash of pre-made slice & bake cookies on hand is priceless. Many people love the idea of giving homemade cookies as gifts or using at office cookie exchanges. Thinking about that, I decided to feature a recipe and gift idea for some inspiration on the subject.

The gift could include an inexpensive little cookie jar with some baked cookies in it as well as some frozen logs of cookie dough (ready to slice & bake), a tea towel, a rimless baking sheet, a cooling rack, a flexible lifter, a set of dry measures, a roll of parchment paper and the recipe for  CHOCOLATE TOFFEE COOKIES.

Vintage Ice Box Cookies
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
60 cookies
Servings
60 cookies
Vintage Ice Box Cookies
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
60 cookies
Servings
60 cookies
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in milk, egg & vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder & salt; stir into butter mixture in 2 additions. Stir in toffee bits & nuts.
  3. Divide dough in half; place each half on a piece of plastic wrap, roll into log about 12-13-inches long. Refrigerate, re-rolling 2 or 3 times to keep round shape if necessary during the chilling time of 4 hours.
  4. Let stand at room temperature just long enough so you can slice them without the dough cracking or changing shape. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. With a sharp knife, slice into 1/4-inch thick slices; place on baking sheet & bake about 8-10 minutes. Immediately transfer cookies WITH parchment to cooling rack.
Share this Recipe

Pecan Persimmon Sticky Buns

As I mentioned in a previous blog, persimmons are definitely underrated. If you haven’t used them before, now is a good time to give them a try. Where we are, here in Canada, you start seeing them in the grocery stores around October. A bit pricey at first but they get better as the winter rolls along. There are unlimited ways to use them posted on the internet.

The persimmon is Japan’s national fruit. The most commonly found varieties are the ‘Hachiya’, round with a slightly elongated, pointed base and the ‘Fuyu’, smaller and more tomato shaped. When ripe, both have a red-orange skin and flesh, creamy texture and a tangy-sweet, vanilla like flavor.

Today, I’m using a Fuyu persimmon to make some nice little sticky buns. This recipe makes a small amount and tastes amazing.

Pecan Persimmon Sticky Buns
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Pecan Persimmon Sticky Buns
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
5-6
Servings
5-6
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Butter 5 or 6 custard cups. In a small saucepan, melt 2 tbsp butter; add brown sugar. Stir until sugar is melted & begins to bubble. Divide sugar mixture between custard cups. Place a pecan half (upside down) in center of each cup. Place sliced persimmon quarters in a circular fashion on top of sugar & pecan. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, beat remaining 4 Tbsp butter & granulated sugar until fluffy. Whisk in vanilla, egg & milk until fully blended.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder & salt. Add to wet ingredients, mixing ONLY until blended. Carefully fold in chopped pecans.
  4. Divide batter between custard cups & bake for 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in custard cups. Invert on serving platter & serve.
Share this Recipe

Pumpkin Liqueur Cupcakes with Pepita Oatmeal Topping

Love it or hate it, pumpkin  spice season is well underway. Every year our obsession with the ‘flavor of fall’ continues to grow with weirder, more unique, pumpkin themed products invading the bakeries, grocery stores, coffee shops, you name it—

It all started with the introduction of the famous Starbucks ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ in 2003. Strangely enough, as a kid, I wasn’t crazy about pumpkin at all. But that was then, now I’m one of those who loves everything pumpkin.

Some time ago, Brion had picked up a bottle of Pumpkin Cream Liqueur. It has a wonderful taste on its own but of course it only seems fitting that I would want to bake with it.

I believe one of the secrets of having incredible flavors in both savory and baked goods is with the use of alcohol. You can’t help but notice, over the last number of years how the humble little cupcake has been elevated to a whole new level. Many of these specialty cupcake stores that have popped up are featuring alcohol-inspired, adult-friendly options.

Now, today, I’m back to ‘recipe development’ to see what I can come up with.

Pumpkin Liqueur Cupcakes / Pepita Oatmeal Topping
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Pumpkin Liqueur Cupcakes / Pepita Oatmeal Topping
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Cupcakes
Pepita Oatmeal Crumble Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper cups.
  2. In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients & set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt & spices. With a pastry blender, cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.
  4. In another bowl, whisk together egg, liqueur, milk & pumpkin puree. Stir into flour mixture JUST until moistened. Place a small scoop of batter in each cup. Divide topping. Using half of topping, divide evenly between cupcakes, creating the 'filling' for the cupcakes. Divide remaining batter between cups; top with remaining topping. Bake 15-20 minutes or until they test done. Remove from pan & cool on a wire rack.
Recipe Notes
  • Technically, pepitas and pumpkin seeds are the same thing. But pepitas (which mean “little seeds of squash” in Spanish) don’t have a shell and are found in only select pumpkin varieties.
Share this Recipe

Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler

As a rule, when a person thinks of a ‘cobbler’ dessert, it means warm comfort food on a cool winter evening. But summer is here with all its fresh produce. There are dozens of simple variations on cobblers, and they are all based on fruits and berries, whatever is in season. The nice thing is, a cobbler relies more on the taste than fancy pastry preparation.

While they are not as show-stopping as a fresh fruit pizza, these easy desserts are perfect for summer barbecues. You can mix everything up, then pop it in the oven while everyone is eating barbecue outdoors. Dessert will be baked and ready for a big dollop of ice cream by the time everyone is finished eating. Fresh  Pineapple Cobbler  is the perfect ending to any spring-summer meal. Quick, easy and good!

Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Fresh Pineapple Summer Cobbler
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Batter
Fruit & Topping
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In an 8 x 8 x 2-inch GLASS baking dish, melt butter, tilting dish to coat bottom. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon & salt. Add milk & extracts folding until smooth batter forms. Pour batter into baking dish over melted butter. DO NOT STIR BATTER INTO BUTTER. Distribute pineapple chunks evenly over the batter & sprinkle with brown sugar.
  3. Bake for about 40-45 minutes in which time the fruit will sink to the bottom of the baking dish & the batter will bubble & bake up to the surface in random spots. When baked, the cobbler will be golden & will spring back slightly when touched in center. Serve warm with a dollop of ice cream!
Share this Recipe

Kumquat Ginger Cakes

The caramelized, citrus kumquat flavor puts a unique twist on the traditional upside down cake. This is an old technique that started centuries ago when cakes were cooked in cast iron skillets. It was easy to place the fruit and sugar in the bottom of the pan with a simple cake batter on top and place it over the fire to ‘bake’. The fruit stays juicy and caramelized when cooked being protected by the sponge of the cake.

Probably, this is where the idea for the classic ‘Pineapple Upside Down Cake’  from the 1920’s stems from. I had some extra kumquats I needed to use so they were perfect in these little desserts. Of course, any fruit of choice will work I’m sure.

Kumquat Ginger Cakes
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Kumquat Ginger Cakes
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Caramelized Kumquats
Cake
Servings:
Instructions
Caramelized Kumquats
  1. In a saucepan, combine water & sugar & heat until sugar dissolves. Leave a few kumquats whole for garnish & slice the rest. Add all of the kumquats to the pan & bring to a gentle simmer. Cook them for about 10-15 minutes until they are tender; drain & return the syrup to the pan. Bring syrup to a boil until it thickens slightly; remove from heat. Reserve whole kumquats; dividing the slices between 4 custard cups.
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. In a bowl, combine all cake ingredients & beat until smooth. Divide mixture over kumquats in custard cups. Place cups on a baking sheet & bake for 15 minutes or until cakes have risen & are firm to the touch in center. Remove from oven & allow them to cool in cups for a few minutes. Carefully turn them out on to serving plates, garnish with whole kumquats & drizzle with warm syrup.
Share this Recipe

Carrot Cake Doughnut Holes with Cream Cheese Glaze

With doughnuts, its all about the ‘hole’. No hole, no doughnut. That little circle means everything. The idea of frying a piece of dough is ancient. The Romans, Dutch, Spanish and Germans all did it. While we know who introduced the doughnut, the story behind the doughnut hole is a little less clear. The most likely explanation was that at some point, bakers started adding egg yolks to their recipes, which produced a richer dough. Of course, this meant the middle of the doughnut no longer cooked at the same rate as its edges, resulting in doughy, raw centers. They came to the conclusion, that if they removed the thick center, the doughnut would cook evenly throughout. It was also believed that the hole was formed to make it easy to ‘dunk’ the doughnut in coffee. However, as in all food history stories you will find various other versions that are more entertaining and whimsical.

In Canada, doughnut holes that are sold by the Tim Horton franchise, have become known as ‘Tim bits’. The name is a play on the word ‘tidbit’ (a delicate bit of food). They were introduced in April 1976 and are available in at least 20 flavors that differ from store to store.

I’m not big on deep fried things whether they are sweet or savory. These carrot cake doughnut holes are baked — no frying necessary. Dip them in a bit of cream cheese ‘glaze’, sprinkle with remaining chopped walnuts and enjoy!

Carrot Cake Doughnut Holes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
14
Servings
14
Carrot Cake Doughnut Holes with Cream Cheese Glaze
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
14
Servings
14
Ingredients
Cream Cheese Glaze
Servings:
Instructions
Doughnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, finely grate carrots. Sift in flour then add brown sugar, soda & spices. Add egg & oil & beat until mixture is smooth. Fold in half of the chopped walnuts.
  2. Butter & flour a cake pop pan. Divide batter between 14 holes. Secure top pan in place with rubber clamps. Bake for 10-12 minutes, testing with a toothpick at about 8 minutes. When baked, remove from oven & allow to cool before removing top pan.
Glaze
  1. In a small bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, margarine & milk. Gradually add sugar & vanilla beating to a glaze consistency.
  2. Once doughnut holes are removed from pan & thoroughly cooled, dip in glaze, sprinkle with remaining walnuts. Allow to firm up in refrigerator before serving with forks.
Recipe Notes
  • Self-Rising Flour is made with 1 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt & enough all-purpose flour to measure 1 cup.
Share this Recipe

Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts

Rhubarb is one of those flavors that signals the coming of spring. A staple crop for every Canadian homesteader, in the 1800’s, as it thrives specifically in cool climates. The focus was initially on function, not flavor and was used as a medicine due to it’s perceived benefits for the digestive system. The tartness adds kick to it’s character causing it to be adored and despised with equal vigor.

Rhubarb ‘fool’ is a traditional English dessert that was popular throughout the 19th century on both sides of the Atlantic. It generally consists of a pureed fruit folded gently into a light, custard. Today’s recipe is a take on that idea using custard, pureed rhubarb and some mini donuts for ‘dunking’.

Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Rhubarb Custard with Mini Donuts
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
2-4
Servings
2-4
Ingredients
Donuts
Rhubarb Sauce
Custard
Servings:
Instructions
Donuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a bowl, whisk together milk, egg, oil & lemon juice. In another bowl, combine flour, sugar & baking powder. Stir wet ingredients into flour mixture until combined in a smooth batter.
  2. Brush mini donut pan with butter. Fill each cup about 1/2 full; bake for about 4-5 minutes or until they test done. Place some sugar in a shallow dish. Remove baked donuts from oven; while still warm coat with sugar. Set aside.
Rhubarb Sauce
  1. Cut rhubarb into small pieces. In a saucepan, add rhubarb, sugar & water; bring to a boil & simmer, covered, gently for 10 minutes. Remove lid & stir, then remove from heat when it reaches a jam consistency.
Custard
  1. In a saucepan, bring milk & vanilla to a boil. In a bowl, whisk egg yolks, sugar & cornstarch together. Add the hot milk to egg mixture slowly whisking as you do so. Return the mixture to the saucepan & bring slowly to a boil, whisking constantly until thickened.
To Serve
  1. Divide custard between 4 custard dishes; place a spoonful of sauce on top. Serve the mini donuts on the side, ready to be 'dunked'.
Share this Recipe

Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

Many people believe Mother’s Day was developed as a commercial holiday to sell cards, candy and flowers or to celebrate the domestic role of women in the home and family. Really, this day is more about women’s commitment to the past, present and the future. Most often, mother’s take the lead in passing down family stories, life lessons and traditions.

Mother’s Day isn’t a new holiday with some of its earliest celebrations being traced back to ancient Greece and Rome. Here in Canada, we set aside the second Sunday in May to honor our mother’s with expressions of love and gratitude.

Although my mother is no longer on this earth, her wonderful memory will live on forever. It is also with love, Brion and I celebrate his mother, Dolores, for her loving and kind ways.

I was trying to come up with something special to bake for the blog recipe today. Lately I have enjoyed using rose & orange water in my cooking. Sweet and fragrant rose water is an elegant steam distillate of rose petals. The key is to use it sparingly as a little goes a long way. Used raw, the flavor is very floral and aromatic. When baked or roasted, that flowery essence mellows out, imparting notes similar to vanilla, with a fruity, more subtle aroma. There are a variety of ways to use rose water from cake and cookies to cocktails and even in roast chicken.

This flavor combination definitely takes the meaning of ‘special’ to a whole new level. Just what I was looking for. 

                                        

 

Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes
Rosewater Buttercream Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Line muffin tin with paper liners & set aside.
  2. In a bowl, whisk together flour baking powder, soda, cardamom & salt. Set aside. In another bowl, beat together softened butter, oil & sugar; mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg is added. Slowly add sour cream & vanilla. Fold in flour mixture being careful not to over mix batter.
  3. Divide batter between the muffin cups. Bake 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven & place the individual muffins on a cooling rack.
Frosting
  1. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar, butter & 1 Tbsp milk. With an electric mixer, beat on low until sugar is incorporated then move to medium-high speed. Add rosewater a 1/4 tsp at a time (taste to prevent it becoming to strong for your liking) then food color. If the icing is not the proper consistency add another Tbsp of milk.
  2. When the cupcakes are cool, frost each one using a large angled star tip. Top off each cupcake with a sprinkle of the reserved chopped pistachios.
Recipe Notes
  • To make your cupcakes real special, decorate with some dried rosebuds.
  • I was able to find rosewater easily in the ethnic section of the grocery store.
Share this Recipe

No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs

Although rice takes top priority at our house, noodles (pasta) are always a staple nevertheless. Some years ago, we started using the ‘no yolks’ version of egg noodles. 

Like many old world pasta products, there is a history. In 1976, Robert Strom created  NO YOLKS. They would become the world’s first                          no-cholesterol egg noodle. They are made with Durum wheat semolina, corn flour, egg whites and have no problem cooking up firm and fluffy.

In Canada, they are the top selling noodle and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. In this recipe, I have paired them with my favorite Chia Chicken Meatballs. Does it get more healthy than that?!

No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
No-Yolk Noodles with Chia Chicken Meatballs
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
2-3
Servings
2-3
Ingredients
Meatballs
Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
Meatballs
  1. In a small bowl, mix together chia seeds & water; let stand for about 20 minutes. In a large bowl, combine remaining meatball ingredients. When chia gel is ready, add to meat mixture. Using your hands, combine ingredients well. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil & lightly coat with baking spray. Scoop into 50 meatballs; place on baking sheet & bake 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely if you are choosing to freeze half for a later meal. Set aside the amount you are using for this meal.
Sauce / Noodles
  1. In a saucepan, melt margarine; saute zucchini & green onion until tender. Sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Add milk/broth & cook, stirring until slightly thickened. Meanwhile, cook no-yolk noodles as directed on package in salted boiling water to which 1 Tbsp of olive oil has been added. Drain.
Assembly
  1. In the pot you cooked the noodles, combine noodles with sauce & meatballs. Fold together & serve topped with some parmigano-reggiano if you wish.
Share this Recipe

Salmon / Artichoke Potato Crusted Quiche

Over the years, Brion and I have vacationed many times in the Carmel / Monterey area on the California coast. As a rule, we make Pacific Grove ‘home base’ and from there do numerous day trips. About a 20 minute drive inland from Monterey Bay is the tiny agricultural town of Castroville. It is surrounded by robust fields of artichokes. When you enter into the town you will see a sign that says ‘Artichoke Center of the World’. 

As the Italians migrated in large numbers to the United States in the early 1920’s, they brought with them some of their cherished and favorite foods. One of them was the globe artichoke. Landowner, Andrew Molera was approached to grow artichokes. The idea was encouraging because they were very expensive and looked like he could make better money than with his current crop of sugar beets.

The loamy, well drained soil and cool foggy summers were a good match for this crop. More than nine decades later, nearly 100 percent of America’s fresh artichoke supply comes from California and nearly two thirds are still grown in Castroville.

Today, I’m using artichokes in a quiche with a potato pastry. This type of pastry was very popular during WWII, as rationing was tightened. It enabled homemakers to stretch their flour ration with potatoes from their gardens. I think potato pastry makes the perfect crust for this kind of quiche. The Red Pepper Puree is the ‘icing on the cake’, as they say.

Salmon / Artichoke Potato Crusted Quiche
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4 - 6
Servings
4 - 6
Salmon / Artichoke Potato Crusted Quiche
Yum
Print Recipe
Servings
4 - 6
Servings
4 - 6
Instructions
Potato Pastry
  1. In a bowl, combine potato, flours & salt. With a pastry cutter, add butter. Knead dough lightly on a floured work surface. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes then press into quiche pan. Preheat oven to 425 F. 'Blind' bake until lightly golden.
Quiche
  1. Reduce oven temperature to 375 F. Place salmon fillets on a lightly oiled foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 14 minutes. Flake cooked salmon & set aside. In a large skillet, saute mushrooms, onions for about 5-7 minutes. Dice artichokes into quarters & add to skillet along with garlic; cook 3-4 minutes & remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, fresh basil & spices.
Quiche Assembly
  1. Spread half if the Gruyere cheese on bottom of quiche crust. Top with flaked salmon & sauteed vegetables. Carefully pour egg/milk mixture over all. Top with remaining Gruyere & Parmigano-Reggiano cheeses. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until quiche is 'set'.
  2. Meanwhile, place the roasted red peppers in a food processor & process until almost smooth. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve with quiche.
Recipe Notes
  • A nice alternate crust would be one made with cheddar cheese.
Share this Recipe