Beet & Apple Crostata

Crostata, Galette and Tart are three terms largely interchangeable when it comes to baking fruit or a savory filling into tender crust. Nevertheless, there are in fact reasons why three different words exist. Just for interest, here’s the ‘scoop’ on the subject.

Crostatas are a rustic looking, free-form pastry that consists of a rolled out piece of dough piled high with fruit and/or veggies. Baked on a flat sheet, the edges of the dough are folded in about an inch or so to create a crust. They are usually brushed with an egg wash before baking.

When it comes to galettes, the only difference from the crostata is linguistic. Crostata is an Italian term and gallette is French. Both refer to the same thing.

Now the tart is actually the European cousin of the pie. What defines a tart is the pan in which it is baked. It can be rectangular, square or circular and vary vastly in size and depth. In a tart pan the bottom is removable, so unlike pies, tarts are usually served unmolded, showing its elegant, fluted edges. Tart crusts are a bit more shortbread-like, as opposed to a flaky pie dough. Tarts can be savory or sweet as well.

Since we are into the fall season, it would seem appropriate to use some beets and apples. These little crostatas have such a great color due to the beets in them. I simply love the flavor of this combo with these spices, Brion not so much! Beets have never been on his ‘favorite’ list but —. The sour cream/cornmeal pastry adds a little ‘crunch’. Hope you have time to give this recipe a try.

 

Beet & Apple Crostata
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Beet & Apple Crostata
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Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Pastry Crust
Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Pastry Crust
  1. In a small bowl, combine sour cream & ice water; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, sugar & salt. Using a pastry blender or finger tips, cut in butter until mixture resembles BOTH coarse crumbs & small peas. Sprinkle the cold sour cream mixture over dough, I Tbsp at a time, tossing with a fork to evenly distribute it. After you have added all the sour cream mixture, dough should be moist enough to stick together when pressed; if not, add additional cold water, 1 tsp at a time. DO NOT overwork dough.
  2. Press dough into a disk shape & wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two or it can be wrapped airtight & frozen for a month. When ready to use, thaw, still wrapped in refrigerator.
Filling
  1. Trim off top & bottom of beet. Chop apples & beet into 1/2-inch cubes. Place apples, beet, sugar, spices & salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat & simmer for 5 minutes. Add flour & simmer for 1 minute allowing the filling to thicken slightly. There should still be some liquid in the bottom of the pan but filling should not be watery. Cool slightly.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove chilled pie dough from fridge & divide into 4 balls. On a piece of parchment paper the size of your baking sheet, roll each ball into a 6-inch circle. Spread 1/4 of the filling evenly over each circle, leaving a 1-inch border. Gently fold pastry over filling, pleating to form your crostatas. Brush with egg wash & sprinkle with sugar if you prefer.
  3. Bake about 35 minutes until filling bubbles & crust is golden. Remove from oven & cool on a wire rack.
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting

Root vegetable desserts aren’t exactly a new concept. Incorporating vegetables such as beets, asparagus, mushrooms and sweet potatoes can lend themselves to new creative dessert ideas if you start thinking ‘out of the box’. 

Parsnips, traditionally used in savory dishes, can bring a subtle sweet tenderness to your baked goods. When roasted or sauteed, their sugars caramelize richly and are well complemented by a variety of seasonings such as orange or lemon zest, ginger and cardamom. 

As the autumn weather turns cooler, root vegetables like carrots and parsnips convert their starch to sugar. After a few fall frosts, parsnips develop a higher sugar content than those harvested before the freeze.

My original idea was to make a loaf cake with shredded raw parsnips as you do with carrots when making  a carrot cake. Knowing how sweet they become when roasted, I decided to do that first. If you have any roasted parsnips leftover from a previous meal they would work just great.

I realize parsnips are not for everyone. It probably seems a bit odd to make them the ‘star’ in dessert but I have to say we both loved this cake. The tart sticky lemon frosting was truly the ‘icing on the cake’.

Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Roasted Parsnip Loaf / Sticky Lemon Frosting
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Ingredients
Roasted Parsnips
Cake
Frosting
Servings:
Instructions
Roasted Parsnips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Peel parsnips & quarter lengthwise; remove core. Chop into medium size pieces & place in a plastic bag. Add a little veg oil & shake to distribute evenly. Line a baking sheet with foil; place parsnips on it & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake until soft, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool, then puree in food processor.
Cake
  1. Line a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder & salt. Using a mixer, beat eggs & sugar together. Add parsnip puree, oil, sour cream, vanilla & spices. Fold in flour mixture, combining gently until well incorporated. Fold in walnuts & chocolate, creating a marble appearance ONLY.
  3. Pour batter into loaf pan & bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until it tests done. Remove from oven & cool slightly before topping with frosting.
Frosting
  1. While cake is baking, combine cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest & extract in a small bowl. With hand mixer, beat until smooth. Frosting will be thick & sticky. Top loaf cake while it is still slightly warm. Slice when cool & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • I had personalized the spices in this cake but if my combination doesn't appeal to you, simply use 1/2 tsp each nutmeg & cloves with a teaspoon of cinnamon instead.
  • When purchasing parsnips, look for the small to medium size. Large parsnips are often bitter & have an undesirable woody quality.
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Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Garlic Shrimp

Shrimp makes for a unique and elegant twist on a stuffed baked potato. For most part, a baked potato with a pat of butter and a little salt is just great on its own. But stuff them, with an assortment of savory ingredients such as shrimp, oysters or ground meat and it easily constitutes a whole meal.

I think my first encounter with this idea came when the Wendy’s restaurant chain introduced the  Stuffed Baked Potato  to their menu in 1983. Their original goal was to give the customer another choice or alternative to the same old ‘fries’. I think it retailed for 99 cents at the time. The one I remember having a couple of times was with the cheese sauce and fresh broccoli. It tasted great to me, not being a fried food lover.  Of course, since then the whole concept has been ratcheted up in both flavor and eye appeal.

For Canadians, barbecue season lasts until the first snow falls (sometimes even a bit after). This is a meal that can easily be cooked on the BBQ as well as in the oven and it is soooo– good! 

Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Garlic Shrimp
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Servings
4-5
Servings
4-5
Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Garlic Shrimp
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Servings
4-5
Servings
4-5
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Rub potatoes with oil & place on a baking sheet. Bake about an hour or until soft to the touch. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Cut a slice off the top of each potato lengthwise. Scoop out pulp, leaving a thin shell. Place pulp in a large bowl & mash.
  2. In a small skillet, fry bacon until crisp. Drain on a paper towel & crumble. Saute green onions in 1/4 cup butter until tender. In a small dish, stir Ranch dressing powder (mix) into sour cream & add to potato pulp along with milk, salt & pepper. Fold in half of the cheese. Divide mixture between potato shells & drizzle with remaining butter. Place baking pan on BBQ where the heat is lower & warm potatoes through while shrimp is cooking.
Garlic Shrimp
  1. In a foil BBQ pan, Gently combine shrimp, olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil, parmigiana-reggiano, salt & pepper. Roast until pink, firm & cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
To Serve
  1. On each serving plate, place a stuffed potato, top with shrimp & garnish with crumbled bacon & remaining cheese.
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Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins

As usual, I can’t get enough of using rhubarb throughout its growing season. This year we started three new plants as our older ones are producing less and less. I think they are probably just becoming to shaded so we put the new ones in a great little spot on the south side of the garage.

Rhubarb’s awkward positioning between fruit and vegetable, sweet and tart, is a topic that’s constantly debated. It resembles sticks of celery dressed in their best pink Sunday attire, blushing from the first few washes of early sun peaking through its dense foliage after winter hibernation underground.

Pie remains the most common use for rhubarb, so much that older cookbooks called it the ‘pie plant’. While it generally is treated as a fruit, it has also been used as a savory ingredient, frequently paired with meats, cheese, stuffings, sauces and much more.

This is one of my favorite ‘sweet’ recipes from quite a few years ago. It has it all — rhubarb, cream cheese & streusal!

Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Rhubarb Cheesecake Muffins
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Stewed Rhubarb
Batter
Cream Cheese Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Stewed Rhubarb
  1. In a small saucepan, combine rhubarb, sugar & lemon slice. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar melts. Reduce heat & simmer about 10-12 minutes or until thickened & reduced to about 1/2 cup. Allow to cool.
Batter
  1. In a large bowl, combine flour & sugar. with a pastry blender, cut in butter to resemble coarse crumbs. In a small dish, measure 1 cup of the flour mixture & add walnuts & cinnamon. Set aside. To remaining flour mixture add baking powder, baking soda & salt. Set aside. In a third bowl, combine sour cream, vanilla & beaten egg.
Cream Cheese Filling
  1. In a small bowl, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 sugar, egg & lemon zest. Fold in stewed rhubarb.
Assembly
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper cups. Stir SOUR CREAM mixture into FLOUR/BAKING POWDER mixture until just blended. Do not over mix! Spread this batter evenly over bottom & up the sides of each paper cup. Place a spoonful of FILLING MIXTURE in center of each, then top with WALNUT MIXTURE & bake 12-15 minutes or until muffins test done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
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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
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Servings
12
Servings
12
Pistachio Cardamom Cupcakes with Rosewater Frosting
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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.
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Wild Rice & Turkey Casserole

I realize you have probably, long ago used up your (frozen) turkey leftovers from Christmas. Nevertheless, casseroles are always a good choice at this time of year. These satisfying blends of favorite flavors are easily assembled, can be made ahead  and you don’t necessarily have to make them from leftovers. One-dish oven dinners are economical and can range from casual to elegant.

I recall making this particular casserole as one of the buffet entrees at a staff gathering. Wild rice is one of those foods you either like it or not, it seems to have no ‘middle ground’.

Wild rice is actually a semi-aquatic grass that has historically grown in lakes, tidal rivers and bays, in water two to four feet deep. It originated in the area of the upper Great Lakes which is both the USA & Canada. Because it is difficult to grow, with low yields per acre, wild rice usually costs more than other grains. To bring the cost down, it is often mixed with other grains (white and brown rice especially) rather than eaten on its own.

This casserole has a nice mix of ingredients. There seem to be numerous versions of the recipe but this is the one we enjoy the most. Hope it works for you.

Wild Rice & Turkey Casserole
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Wild Rice & Turkey Casserole
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Servings
6
Servings
6
Instructions
  1. Prepare wild rice mix, being careful not to overcook. In a saucepan, saute onions, mushrooms & celery in butter until softened. Add soup, sour cream, soy sauce & broth & heat through. Then add turkey, water chestnuts & prepared wild rice mix, stirring gently.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place mixture into lightly buttered casserole dish. Bake for 25-35 minutes, gently stirring once. After stirring, top with chopped or slivered almonds.
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Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

Today, February 13th is Shrove Tuesday  also known as ‘pancake day’. As I was thinking about the subject of pancakes today, I recalled a story from many years ago that still makes me laugh. I’m sure the reason I found it so funny was due to the fact that my life’s work was spent in the commercial food industry so I could relate to the situation.

I grew up in a southern Alberta, Canada farming community. In the town there was a huge building called an Agriplex which was used for all large agricultural events. A local caterer had been hired to provide a morning breakfast to horse show competitors. She recounted this event in a cookbook she later went on to publish in 1983. It read like this:

A horse show was being held at our local Agriplex and I had agreed to provide an early morning breakfast. By opening time we felt all was ready — the counter was set with all the necessary accoutrements, iced juices were ready to pour and the pancake batter, enough to feed all of southern Alberta, stood on a TV tray right next to the hot grill.  Who could ask for more?   This building is located on the northwest edge of town with nothing but countryside beyond it as far as the eye can see. As well, it holds grain and hay for the various agricultural events. Thus, making it ripe territory for mice.

Every precaution had been taken to keep them out of the kitchen — traps, bait, even a cat or two. But one little field mouse had eluded all traps set for him and appeared at the vary moment of opening on a ledge behind the big stove. My first thought was to head him off at the pass. After all, that big bowl of pancake batter sat just a few feet from his inquiring nose.

As things worked out, it would have been better to let him fall into the batter. We would just have had to make new batter. But no, I took a mighty swing at him with a broom and hit the TV table which promptly collapsed. My pride and joy white crockery bowl hit the stove and broke into dozens of pieces which meant a sea of pancake batter began spreading, slowly but surely, into every crack and corner of the big stove. Some disappeared under the stove and the rest spread like glue across the floor, all over the area where we should have been standing, that very minute, flipping pancakes and cooking eggs.  The mouse got away!

Sometime later, a friend of mine, gave me a copy of the cookbook as a gift. Inside the cover she had written — ‘As you read this book I’m sure it will remind you of the many funny and often not so funny things that happened to us during the years we worked together in the food industry’. Great memories!

I hope you enjoyed reading my ‘long story’ today. For my Shrove Tuesday pancakes I’m making SOUR CREAM CORN PANCAKES WITH MAPLE SYRUP.

 

 

Sour Cream Corn Pancakes
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Servings
12 PANCAKES
Servings
12 PANCAKES
Sour Cream Corn Pancakes
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Servings
12 PANCAKES
Servings
12 PANCAKES
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, milk, sour cream, butter & vanilla.
  2. In another bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Add flour mixture to liquid mixture & whisk together until no large lumps remain. Let batter rest for 15 minutes. If you wish, you can refrigerate it overnight & use for breakfast in the morning.
  3. Heat a large non-stick electric griddle to 350 F. Using a 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter onto griddle. Top each pancake with well drained corn niblets. Cook to a golden brown on each side. Serve with warm Maple Syrup.
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German New Years Cake

The German New Years cake is a traditional round cake with three layers of different fillings: poppy seeds, nuts & apple. Going back to pre-Christian days, ring-shaped breads and cakes were always considered fortunate because they signified continuity by ‘coming full circle’ or ‘the circle of life’.

The start of the new year has a tenancy to turn even non-believers a bit superstitious.  All around the world, New Years Day  is filled with traditions and symbolic ritual with many of the traditions revolving around food. Certain foods symbolize wealth, prosperity, health and good luck for the coming year. In some cultures, cakes or bread have symbolic items baked inside.

Poppy Seed is believed to bring a year of abundance. Nuts are a symbol of new life and potential. Apples, along with healing properties should bring a ‘sweet new year’!

Keeping all that in mind, it seems like a good reason to invest some time into making this special layered GERMAN NEW YEARS CAKE.

German New Years Cake
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Servings
12-16
Servings
12-16
German New Years Cake
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Servings
12-16
Servings
12-16
Ingredients
Cake Dough
Poppy Seed Filling
Apple Filling
Servings:
Instructions
Cake Dough
  1. In a large bowl, combine dough ingredients & knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap & place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Poppy Seed Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, combine all poppy seed ingredients. Place over LOW heat for 1-2 minutes; remove from heat & cool.
Nut Filling
  1. In a small bowl, combine all nut filling ingredients; set aside.
Apple Filling
  1. In a small saucepan, saute peeled & chopped apples over low heat with butter & sugar. Do not add any water as they need to be semi-soft, NOT MUSHY.
Assembly of Cake
  1. Divide chilled dough in HALF, then divide one of the halves into THIRDS. Roll out the largest piece into a circle big enough to cover the bottom & sides of a 12-inch spring form pan. Make sure to have a bit hanging over the top of the ring.
  2. Add the poppy filling. Roll out one of the small pieces of dough to fit neatly on top of filling. Gently cover with nut filling. Roll second small piece of dough; fit over nut filling. Add apple filling layer. Fold extra dough edges onto apples & top with third piece of dough. Your dough base & dividers should all be rolled quite THIN.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Beat egg & add a tiny bit of water. Brush it over top surface. Bake for about 1 hour & 20 minutes until golden. Remove from oven & place on a wire rack to cool. This cake is best if left in a cool place for a day or two before serving so the flavors will marry. Dust with a layer of powdered sugar before serving.
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Christmas Pate’

Christmas gatherings would not be complete without pate’. For many people, pate’ brings to mind a fancy goose liver-based hors d’ oeuvre spread — but not all pate’ is made from liver!

While traditionally served baked in a crust, today pate’ simply describes a wide variety of smooth blends of meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables, dairy products, liquors like sherry or cognac with herbs and spices. 

Pates’ can be smooth and creamy (mousse) or firm and chunkier (country style). Mousses spread effortlessly on crackers or bread while country style varieties can be sliced or cubed for appetizers or sandwiches.  Equally flavorful hot or cold, pates’ are best served at room temperature.

Recipes are not always extravagant and widely vary from the humble appetizer prepared at home to one of the most expensive dishes served in world renowned restaurants.

There are no rigid rules for cooking or serving pate’.  Nearly any flavor profile that appeals to you can be made into one. Today I wanted to feature a couple of very simple but tasty pates’ you might enjoy to try somewhere throughout the Christmas season.

Pistachio & Turkey Pate' / Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
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Servings
20
Servings
20
Pistachio & Turkey Pate' / Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
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Servings
20
Servings
20
Ingredients
Pistachio & Turkey Pate'
Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
Servings:
Instructions
Pistachio & Turkey Pate'
  1. Line a small bowl with plastic wrap.
  2. In a food processor, combine turkey, onions, sour cream & mustard; process until mixture is well blended & smooth. Add relish; process about 30 seconds or until JUST combined. Spoon into lined bowl; cover with plastic wrap & press gently. Refrigerate 1-2 hours to blend flavors.
  3. Unmold onto serving; remove plastic wrap. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios; gently press onto plate. Serve with a variety of crackers. Yield: 2 1/2 cups.
Walnut & Wild Mushroom Pate'
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast for 10 minutes, or until fragrant & lightly browned.
  2. In a large skillet, saute shallots in butter over medium heat until translucent.; add chopped mushrooms, garlic, parsley, thyme, salt & pepper. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Process toasted walnuts & olive oil in food processor until mixture forms a thick paste. Spoon in the cooked mushroom mixture; process to desired texture. Pack mixture into a well oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Serve on baguette slices or crackers of your choice. Yield: 20 servings
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Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies

Sour cream is often thought of as topping for potatoes or an addition to sauces. Due to its creamy texture, sour cream can be added to a variety of baked goods and recipes in order to yield moister results. The use of sour cream has been associated with the cooking traditions of Eastern Europe, Germany, Ukraine and Russia since the first half of the 20th century. Originally made by allowing cream to sour naturally, today’s commercial version can contain the addition of lactic acid, gelatin or guar gum.

Probably one of the first recipes I ever used sour cream in was coffeecake. I just couldn’t believe how tender and moist it was and the heavenly smell when it came out of the oven. Looking through my mother’s recipe files, I see there were many recipes that contained sour cream that she had used.

I saw this recipe on a site called love2cooksweets.ca  It was posted back in 2010. Nothing fancy but makes a wonderful sour cream oatmeal cookie. These can be filed under ‘comfort food’ I’m sure.

Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Sour Cream Oatmeal Cookies
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Servings
24
Servings
24
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda & salt. In a medium bowl, cream butter with sugars; beat in egg & vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with sour cream. Stir in raisins & oats.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F. Scoop dough onto cookie sheet a few inches apart. Bake 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool on pan about 30 seconds then remove to wire racks.
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