Saturday, 22 January 2011

Banana bread

I was given this easy recipe for delicious banana bread by my niece Heloisa. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


2 cups of self-raising white flour
2 cups of sugar
1 cup of sunflower oil (not too full)
3 eggs
5 ripe bananas
1/3 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon


Mix the eggs, oil, cinnamon and 4 bananas in the blender. Pour the mixture into a large bowl and add the sugar. Mix well, then gradually sift in the flour and continue mixing until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Slice the final banana and add to the mix. Pour it into a buttered and floured loaf tin and bake in pre-heated oven (375F/190C) for approximately 50 minutes. Check that it's firm to the touch and toothpick comes out clean, etc. If necessary, cook for another ten minutes or so. You may sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon while it's still hot.

This is more of a cake, despite the bread shape. It doesn't matter what we call it. It's lovely with a nice cup of coffee!

Sunday, 2 January 2011


Sleuth collected some more recipes from the palingaters, this time for appetizers. I didn't manage to get this post out before New Year's Eve, but these recipes are useful at any time.


Not so light, but sophisticated flavors and easy:
Mash together well, sweet gorgonzola cheese with the same amount of cream cheese and fill celery sticks with the mixture (shown here with a sprinkling of pine nuts).

lilybart again

Green Olive Dip/Tapenade (serve with pita chips)
2 cups green olives in brine
1 small to medium jalapeno pepper
1 1/3 cup pine nuts
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk

Place in a food processor: olives, drained, jalapeno cut into strips and seeded, add all the other ingredients and process into a coarse paste. If too dry, drizzle in a little more olive oil. Put in into your serving dish, cover and chill until you use it. Let it warm up before serving with pita chips. I am bringing this to a dinner tomorrow night. Along with a chocolate brioche bread pudding with creme fraiche.


Here is one I've used a lot - you can sub blue cheese for the Gorgonzola if you want... easy, elegant... great served with wine. I usually do mine in a round cake pan, just make sure you make enough to fill it. In a bowl combine equal parts softened cream cheese and crumpled Gorgonzola or blue cheese then add finely crushed walnuts. Spray the pan and line it with saran wrap leaving some hanging over the sides, put the nuts in the bottom and then the whole mixture and pack it down good, fold over the saran wrap to cover and put into the refrigerator then before the party just unwrap the top and invert onto a pretty dish and then remove the rest of the wrap... ENJOY with crackers or crostini.


"Roll ups"
Take thin-sliced natural lunchmeat (I like roasted chicken from Healthy Choice), and schmear a thin line of whipped cream cheese (about the diameter of a "Pretty Little Pencil") down a long edge of the meat. Add a slightly steamed asparagus spear next to it, then roll up tightly (smear a light amount on other side to make it "hold" together). It should now look like a long thin cigar. Now, cut it into 1" slices, arrange on a serving platter and then ladle a small amount (about 1 tsp.) any of these sauces over each one: a warmed light white sauce; a thin, cooled cranberry sauce (my fav), whatever. Place tidbit toothpicks and a discard bowl nearby (for nibblers), and / or a serving spoon (for those using a plate) for serving. VOILA. I make these for get togethers and they disappear first. Always.


Spinach & Salmon Rolls
Makes 10 rolls
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
5 slices smoked salmon
4 tablespoons Boursin Garlic & Fine Herbs
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons crème fraîche
10 large spinach leaves

Cut the smoked salmon lengthwise into two separate halves. Mix Boursin, lemon juice, and crème fraîche. Wash the spinach leaves and blanch them in boiling water for 10 seconds. Plunge them in ice water and dry them on kitchen paper. Lay half a slice of smoked salmon on each spinach leaf. Spread the Boursin mixture in the middle of the slices of smoked salmon, fold over the edges of the spinach leaves, and roll them up tightly.
Tip:You can replace the smoked salmon with cooked ham and the spinach leaves with large lettuce leaves.

Cheeriogirl again

BLT Bites
19-20 Cherry Tomatoes
1 pound Bacon
1/2 cup Mayonnaise
1/3 cup Chopped Green Onions
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons snipped Fresh Parsley

Cut a thin slice off of each tomato top, then scoop out and discard pulp. Invert tomatoes over a paper towel to drain. In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Spoon mixture into tomatoes. Chill, serve and ENJOY!


[This recipe came from a well-known chef in Dallas who made it on a morning TV show. He said that it was "embarrassingly easy". I like embarrassingly easy lol!]
If you have a source for fresh shiitake or wild mushrooms, strudel is easy & elegant.
¼ cup olive oil
3 peeled shallots, minced
1 bay leaf
2 pounds of shiitakes or mixed mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup sherry
2 tbls unsalted butter
2 to 3 cloves peeled garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbls fresh thyme, chopped
1 bunch of chives, sliced thin
1 cup chevre or other goat cheese, crumbled
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 beaten egg with small amount of water

Preheat oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat.
Add shallots and bay leaf.
Cook until shallots are translucent but not browned.
Add mushrooms and brown evenly. Stir.
Allow moisture of mushroom to be released and juices to reduce.
To deglaze the pan, add sherry and scrape up any browned bits.
Add butter and garlic. cook until garlic aroma is strong.
Add salt and pepper to taste along with the fresh thyme and chives.
Remove bay leaf.
Place mixture on a sheet pan and refrigerate to cool.
Once completely cool, remove from refrigerator and mix together with cheese.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Place puff pastry sheet on work surface. Place mushroom mixture off-center lengthwise down the pastry. Brush egg wash around perimeter of the dough.
Fold long edges, overlapping, over the filling. Flip or roll strudel so the seam is on the bottom. Seal short ends by folding under or pinching.
Place on lightly oiled baking sheet.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Rotate pan halfway through the baking process. Cool before slicing.

Texasgal2009 again

Another easy appetizer that I like, it starts with portabella or shiitake mushrooms and ends up with mini gluten-free pizzas. First,trim off the stems and then place the caps upside down on a lightly oiled baking sheet.
I usually brush half of the caps with roasted garlic infused garlic oil combined with fresh or dried Italian herbs. It's very ad lib lol! I put a teaspoon of tomato based pasta sauce on the rest of the caps. Then I top the caps with pieces of cooked bacon, anchovies or shredded cooked ham. I leave some meatless for my vegetarian relatives and friends. Kalamata olives or black olives are also wonderful on these. The next step is to top the caps with your choice of Italian cheeses and a sprinkling of fresh or dried Italian herbs of your choice. Bake in a 375 degree oven until the cheese is golden. They don't last long.


Take a block of cream cheese, put on a pretty platter, pour cocktail sauce over it, then drain a can of crabmeat (or fake crabmeat for those of us like me who are among the unfortunate with a shellfish allergy) and put on top of sauce, arrange lemon slices around the platter, and serve with fancy and hearty crackers. It is last minute, all store bought, elegant (especially if garnished with the lemons and maybe a little parsley).
You can use lite cream cheese too, because to me it tastes the same.
Make sure to provide a knife, or spoon for digging in and spreading.

Variation by IWantTruth:
Substitute hot pepper jelly for the cocktail sauce and serve with crackers or tortilla chips.
Variation by 1smartcanerican:
Yup, this used to be my fancy dish back in the '70s, sometimes with the crab, sometimes with shrimp. Easy, but totally delicious.


An easy dip:
1 cup of Cream cheese (Philadelphia type)
1 cucumber, peeled and seedless
2 green peppers
1 big white onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 lemon juice
salt and pepper
Dump all in blender et voilà!


a baked wheel of brie, sliced French bread, sliced Pink Lady apples -- quick easy delish.

kellygrrl again

Buy a bag of the little frozen meatballs, throw them in a crock pot with a bottle of beer and a bottle of your fave BBQ dressing or heinz57 chile sauce. Cook them really slowly. Leave them in the pot in the fridge overnight. Rewarm the next morning.
Variation by honestyingov:
Every time we would have a potluck at my last job they would always do the same thing you mentioned. EXCEPT they replaced the meatballs with a package of those "Little Smokies" bite-sized little sausages. They were always all gone.


Austin offered calf fries (aka Rocky Mountain Oysters) as a suggestion. If you have to ask, you don't want to know...

There are also some recipes for desserts, but I'll put them in another post, otherwise my labels will get all messed up!

Thank you all for the recipes and a very happy New Year!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Christmas Special menus and recipes

Our friends at Palingates have exchanged loads of recipes over the holidays and Sleuth collected them for easy reference. Here they are:


Merry Christmas from Oregon everyone.
Here's a quick breakfast idea if anyone wants an early start in the morning. I made one earlier today for breakfast.

1 1/2 cups shredded potatoes, onion, bell peppers, mushrooms, or anything else you might like. (I added sausage)
1/4 cup fat-free egg product or 2 plain eggs.
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup Bisquick
1 teaspoon salt OR a salt blend (I used Cajun)
1/3 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray bottom and side of 8- or 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Spread potatoes in bottom of pie plate.
2. In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except cheese with wire whisk or fork until well blended. Pour over potatoes. Sprinkle cheese over top.
3. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until eggs in center are set.
Double amounts if you want a thicker one. I did! But use a 8 x 8 square pan with higher sides.


Merry Christmas! I think I just make my best pumpkin pie ever! Woo Hoo! (I'm not the best, most natural cook in the world, LOL!). My new trick is to very slowly, over low heat, pre-cook the filling just until it gets thick and leaves a "trace" when you dribble some filling from the spoon onto the surface. Then I pre-bake my pie crust (store bought, because I'm still afraid to make a homemade pie crust!), pour in the filling, and baked it for about 30 minutes at 350F. Here's my recipe if anyone is interested:

15 oz. can of Farmer's Market brand pumpkin puree (the best in my opinion!)
1/2 cup sugar (I use that organic, slightly tan/brown granulated stuff, it has a touch of brown sugar flavor without the hassle)
3/4 tsp cinnamon
heaping 1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp ginger
scant 1/8 tsp allspice
a dash or so of nutmeg (I'm not a huge nutmeg fan)

--Mix all of that well, then add in
3 beaten eggs
Then 1 cup whole milk, or half-n-half, or cream (depending on how creamy you want it)
Heat slowly in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat with constant stirring (I use a silicon-coated whisk), then pour into the pre-baked pie shell. About 30 minutes at 350F.
Now if I can just get my shortbread to come out as well!

Ripley in CT

It's called TOURTIERE in French. My mom sent me the recipe her grandmother used to make. The measurements are approximate.

Preheat oven to 400.
2 lb ground pork
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 boiled potatoes
3 slices of day-old bread
Poultry seasoning (I use Bell's.. the best)- approximately 1-2 Tbsp I find is best
Salt and pepper to taste. (like maybe 1.5 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper)
I also add a little crushed garlic... because I like garlic ;) If you want, you can add other things like shredded carrots, or use ground turkey instead of the beef. It's rather fluid :) I like it simple.

Cook pork, beef, onion, celery and seasonings in a large pot till done, usually around 45 minutes. Cook over medium heat, do not burn. Mix it all up and break up the meat as you go. In the meantime, cook the potatoes whole, or cut in half. If you use regular (not red) potatoes, leave the skins ON. Peel them before you add them later.

Break up the bread in to small pieces (I used bread I made last weekend). When the potatoes are done, (peel if necessary and) cut them up into smallish, irregular pieces. I like red potatoes so I don't have to peel them. Not mashed, just busted up.

When the meat is done, drain the fat. Add bread and potatoes and mix well.
Stick it all in a deep dish pie shell and cover with top crust. Make slits in the top to let steam escape. Bake around 40 minutes. I use foil on the edges during the first 15 minutes so it doesn't burn.

That's it. I make mine the night before and re-heat it in the morning for breakfast. All the men in my family eat it with Ketchup. When I used to eat meat, I liked it just as is.


1 LITER GRAIN ALCOHOL (190 PROOF)...I could not find...used 151 proof Everclear instead
2 1/2 quarts Parmalat whole milk (ultra-pasteurized in the brick boxes)
12 lemons (wash with hot water to remove wax and dry)
8 cups sugar
3 packets of Vanillina pura (Vanillin, each packet .05 grams)
1 covered glass or ceramic bowl or large jar ( Do NOT us plastic)
Cheesecloth ( a must!)

Peel off the rind (zest) from the 12 lemons. Be careful not to peel off any of the white pith as this will make the final product bitter. I used a good potato peeler or you could use a zester.
Place the rinds in the bowl. Pour the alcohol into the bowl and stir. Cover tightly and set aside for the next 10 days, stirring once a day. (do not let sit any longer than 20 days)
DAY 11

Slowly bring to a boil the 2 1/2 quarts Parmalat milk, add the sugar , while milk is boiling stir until completely dissolved, let let milk burn!
Once sugar is completely dissolved, set aside to cool. Add the Vanillina (comes in small packets like Sweet and Low....i could only find at a Natural Food store)
After cooling, pour mixture of alcohol and lemon peels through a funnel lined with cheescloth into the cooled milk.

Stir mixture and pour into small saved Perrier bottles (or any bottles you want) through cheesecloth and a funnel again. Screw caps on.
I went to the craft store and bought flattened yellow marbles and hot glued them on top fo the metal caps and made fun yellow and green hang tags, saying "Crema Di Limoncello", home brewed for you by __________________________
KEEP IN FREEZER....NO WORRIES...IT DOES NOT FREEZE BECAUSE OF ALL THE ALCOHOL. The flavor is best enhanced when it is very cold.

I made a DOUBLE should too....once you start giving them as gifts, you get more requests! ;0) You will love this stuff as an after dinner sipping liquor!
I also have the recipe for Crema di Orancello which I will make next year.


Christmas Zuccotto
Serves 10-12
2 x 8" vanilla sponge cakes
1/4 cup maraschino liqueur
1/2 lb mascarpone
1/2 lb ricotta, drained
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1/2 pint cream, whipped
1/2 cup chopped glace fruit
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
4 ozs dark chocolate

Line a 8" mixing bowl with plastic film.
Cut each sponge into 3 horizontal discs. Cut the discs to line the bowl, patching any gaps with leftover sponge. Brush the sponge with maraschino liqueur. Set aside remaining maraschino liqueur and sponge for finishing the zuccotto. Place the mascarpone, ricotta and confectioners sugar in the food processor and pulse until smooth. Add half the whipped cream to the mascarpone/ricotta mixture, together with the glace fruit and hazelnuts. Fill the sponge dome with the mixture, creating a space in the middle; this will be filled with the chocolate mixture.
Melt the chocolate and when slightly cooled add to the whipped cream. Spoon into the centre of the dome. Place a sponge lid on top of the filling and brush with the remaining maraschino liqueur. Cover with plastic film, place a tray or plate on top and weight it down with some jars or tins overnight. When the zuccotto has set, turn it out on to a plate or wire rack and prior to serving sift confectioners sugar over it.

If you're a chocoholic and you have plenty of time, you can drizzle the zuccotto all over with warm chocolate ganache then return it to the fridge. Repeat a couple of times to create a thick smooth coating.

1/2 lb dark chocolate
1 1/2 cups cream
Melt the chocolate and cream together and stir until smooth.


Creme Brulee French Toast
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup packed br sugar
2T corn syrup
1 (8-9 inch) loaf challah (or Italian) bread
5 large eggs
1 1/2 cup half and half
1t vanilla
1t Grand Marnier (optional)
1/4 t salt

-In small heavy sauce pan melt butter, br sugar, and corn syrup over moderate heat stirring until smooth
-Pour into 13x9x2 pan
-Cut 6 one inch slices of bread (from the center), trim crusts (I leave 'em)
-Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.
-In a bowl, whisk together eggs, half n half, vanilla, GM, and salt until combined well, then pour over bread
-Chill bread mixture, covered, in refrigerator at least 8 hours, or up to one day (I love that you basically make this ahead!)
-Preheat oven to 350, and bring bread mixture to room temp.
-Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden...35-40 minutes.


Easy Rum Cake (with variations)

1/2 cup minced walnuts (or 1/3 cup minced pecans & ½ cup shredded coconut)
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow (or butter-pecan) mix
1/2 cup dark rum - I like Meyers Dark (or you can use Coconut rum, spiced rum, etc.)
4 eggs
1/2 cup water (or ½ cup coconut milk, pineapple juice, etc.)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla (or coconut cream pudding mix)

1/2 cup butter
1/8 cup water (or pineapple juice)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup white rum - I like Appleton Estates

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Grease and flour a 10 inch tube or Bundt pan. Sprinkle nuts (and shredded coconut if making Coconut cream version) over the bottom of the pan.

Mix together the cake mix, 1/2 cup dark rum, eggs, 1/2 cup water (or coconut milk), oil, and vanilla (or coconut) pudding mix. Pour batter over the nuts in the pan.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Cool slightly, then invert cake on a serving plate. Deeply pierce the rounded top of the cake all the way around with a meat fork many times.

To Make The Glaze: Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in 1/8 cup water (or pineapple juice) and the 1/2 cup sugar. Boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove glaze from heat, and stir in 1/4 cup rum.

Pour slightly cooled glaze back into the bundt / tube pan. Then, carefully replace cake (top side down) back into the baking pan to absorb the glaze through the piercing in the top. After about 30 minutes, or when cake has absorbed all the glaze, turn onto doily-covered cake platter, and garnish with powered sugar.

I always make extra glaze to then drizzle over the “bottom” of the cake, but I will boil-away the alcohol on that portion of the glaze. My family loves “strong-tasting” foods.

You may substitute many ingredients. For example, you may want to use yellow cake mix with just coconut cream pudding mix and walnuts; or butter pecan cake mix with coconut milk and plain dark rum. Adding pineapple makes this a Pina Colada Rum Cake. Feel free to play with this recipe. Dark rum works best IN the cake & white rum works best for the glaze. I like Meyers dark rum best.


There's a budget-fracturing prime rib thawing on the counter, an eggnog cheesecake finished in the fridge, goop made for the baked potatoes, cranberry sorbet made and curing in the freezer, and I'm working on the mac and cheese. (Preschooler grandson will eat mac and cheese happily every day of his life.)

I still have to do the apple crumble, caramel sauce, cinnamon ice cream, and strawberry ice cream (for daughter who doesn't like cinnamon/caramel stuff) and the prep on the salmon (daughter doesn't eat beef). And I need to cook the chicken for the salad. Then I get to clean the house. Slow and steady. I'm taking a Palin-break.

Tomorrow I make the rolls and salad, and I decided to turn the leftover cinnamon rolls into a bread pudding with LOTS of rum. Hey, it's my dinner- anyone else is free to offer to cook if they don't like what I turn out. Later tonight, I'm going to dig out the gin and tonic. Happy holidays!

I have a leg of lamb marinating in olive oil, rosemary, thyme, fresh ground pepper, crushed garlic and wine. Side dishes are roasted potato, oven baked sweet potato fries, green bean casserole, seasoned greens (in this case, spinach) and fresh-baked artisan bread. Dessert is peach cobbler and applesauce cake and, just added tot he menu, butterscotch brownies.
Breakfast is French toast using the buttermilk cinnamon-raisin artisan bread I baked 2 days ago, and fresh-made raisin syrup.

We had our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, a variation on the Italian Seven Fishes dinner. It has changed a lot from when my grandmother did it the old style way. We have fresh fish, clams, mussels, shrimp, crab, fettucini alfredo, and Italian Bread Soup, a family favorite! With having little ones who had to get home and leave cookies and milk for Santa and carrots for the reindeer, we're home early enough to finish a few last minute things for tomorrow. We host a Christmas buffet that starts around 3:00 and lasts until the final guest leaves. We serve a variety of hot and cold foods, deviled clams, crab cakes, rolled boneless rib roast that you slice really thin, putting it these soft fresh rolls with au jus and the little sandwiches melt in your mouth, love the horseradish dressing on it, too. We'll also have macaroni & cheese, potato salad, steamed shrimp, meatballs & gravy and a variety of cheeses, cold veggies w/dips, and a dessert table. I started doing the buffet when my children got older because their friends wanted to visit or they wanted to go and visit all their friends. It was easier than trying to plan a nice dinner that everyone would sit down to with the kids wanting to hurry up, eat and leave. It wasn't worth spending hours in the kitchen to sit for 20 minutes and I wouldn't let them leave until everyone was done so it all worked out better for everyone, not to mention, I get to spend almost all my time with guests and get everything ready ahead of time.

Roast is in the oven. Salmon is prepped and ready to go in. Rolls are baked and smell wonderful- I made a special teddybear-shaped roll for the grandson. Potatoes are prepped and wrapped in foil. Green bean casserole- son-in-law's fave- is made and ready to go into the oven. Mac and cheese, all ready to go into the oven. (No mixes here! Even though, unlike Sarah, I CAN read the directions on a box!) Goop is made for the baked potatoes. I have made strawberry ice cream for daughter, baked an apple crumble and made cinnamon ice cream to top it and caramel sauce to top that, and because Mr. Free does not care for ice cream, I have made him a cranberry sorbet. Because I am having guests tomorrow for Boxing Day, I also made an eggnog cheesecake kind of as an extra, but I'm hanging onto those cinnamon buns because they will be a bread pudding by tomorrow dinnertime.

All I have left to do is toss a salad, which I will do right before dinner. Nothing worse than soggy greens.

I have the thought, "it's Miller time" but it's really Standard Time- which means it's three pm according to my body, not 2 pm- so I'm breaking out the gin.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Beef in Beer

I was sent this delicious and very warming recipe by my niece Laurita, a big food enthusiast. I had this dish many years ago at a friend's house and she used Guinness instead of ale. It was fantastic!


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, sliced thinly
450 g thickly sliced carrots
1 to 1.2 kg beef chuck, in 5cm chunks
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, parsley and rosemary
2 bay leaves
750ml ale or beer (Guinness works very well)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the bread topping:
twelve 2.5cm thick slices from a French baguette
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley


Heat the oil in the pot over a medium heat on the hob. Add the onions, garlic, and carrots and fry just until they begin to colour. Use a slotted spoon to remove them. Use the upturned lid as a holding plate.

Add the beef in two batches and brown evenly. Remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 275°F/140°C/Gas Mark 1. Return all the browned ingredients to the pot. Add the herbs, tied together to make a bouquet garni, with the beer, seasoning, and 125ml water. Stir together, cover, and cook in the oven for 3 to 3 ½ hours until the beef is very tender.

Spread one side of each bread slice with the mustard. When the beef is tender check the liquid level, which should be just covering the meat. Add a little more beer, if necessary, and remove the bouquet garni.

Push the bread, mustard side up, into the top of the liquid, squeezing the slices tightly together. Return, uncovered, to the oven for 20 minutes longer to lightly colour and crisp the bread. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

If it suits your schedule better, the beef can be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer time, such as 225°F/110°C/ Gas Mark 1⁄4 for 5 to 6 hours.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Lebkuchen Cookies - Guest Post

I spent a few days in Paris and had a lovely surprise waiting for me in my inbox: A lovely recipe, ready to share!

It came from Heidi3, our friend from Palingates, making this the first guest post on "Do I Smell Burning?"

Guest post by Heidi3

This recipe came originally from my great-grandmother, who arrived in America from Dantzig, Germany. It was her daughter, my grandma Olga, born in 1894, and who lived to age 102 (!) who taught me how to bake these German Christmas cookies when I was a teenager. It is a time-consuming project, but well worth it.


1 cup clover honey (any light honey is fine). You will need to buy two 8 oz. jars, because this 1 cup is a dry cup measure.

1 cup light molasses ("Grandma's Light Unsulfured" is best)

2 eggs

2 cups light brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup sour cream

1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda (fresh! - this is the only leavening)

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

5 cups (and as much as 7 cups) sifted unbleached all-purpose white flour
Note: This needs to be an extrememly stiff dough, so keep adding flour, but no more than 7 cups total. Any more will make the cookies "tough".

1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, pre-dried in oven, but not toasted

1/2 cup walnut pieces

1/2 cup mixed candied fruit (important: pick out the red cherries first)

Blanched almond halves for cookie top decoration:
Buy a 4 oz. package of unblanched whole almonds. Boil a pot of water, and when boiling, remove from heat and immediagtely put in the almonds. Let sit 1/2 hour (no longer, or the skins will stain the white almonds). "Pinch" the almonds from their skins. Let dry 1/2 hour, then they should fall into halves easily.


(Blanching the almond halves and some steps below can be done in advance)

Fine grind together: The 1/2 cup very dry slivered almonds, 1/2 cup walnut pieces, and the 1/2 cup candied fruit.

Measure honey, molasses and brown sugar into a medium pot, and over a low heat, warm enough to melt sugar, and make sure no lumps are left. Let mixture cool 1/2 hour.

Beat eggs a bit, then add eggs, sour cream, and ground candied fruit/nut mixture to the honey-molasses-sugar mixture. Pour into very large bowl.

Measure out 5 cups flour before sifting. Add soda, spices and salt, and sift together 2-3 times to ensure equal distribution. In very large bowl, stir flour into honey mixture, adding flour as needed to get a very stiff dough. Cover bowl and refrigerate overnight.

Roll out small portions of dough using floured sleeve over rolling pin, on a floured pastry cloth. Keep rest of dough refrigerated. Roll to 1/4" - 3/8" thick. Using a cardboard cutting pattern, cut out 1-1/2" x 2-1/2" cookies. Press blanched almond half, flat side down, into center of each cookie top.

Using a very lightly greased cookie sheet (or parchment paper, but truthfully I've never tried the paper before), bake 7-8 minutes at 350 degrees. Over-greasing the sheet will lead to unwanted crispy edges. It's best to bake only one sheet of cookies at a time.

Yield: Approximately 10 dozen soft, chewy cookies

MERRY CHRISTMAS From "Heidi3's" German Great-Grandma!!


Heidi3 must have read my mind. These are my favourite cookies and I can't find the really nice ones in our little corner of France... 10 dozen seems about right for my needs, yum yum!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Improvised version of Potatoes Florentine

I was tired of the same old potatoes and decided to improvise a dish by adding creamed spinach and tomatoes to see what happened. Of course, the dishes containing spinach acquire the posh "Florentine" title, which helps awaken the taste buds...


2 or 3 medium potatoes per person
Enough creamed spinach for a generous layer
Fresh cream
2 or 3 tomatoes, again to make a layer
Grated cheese (I used Emmenthal, but Cheddar works just as well)
Salt & pepper to taste


Wash and/or peel the potatoes. Parboil them, slice them and reserve (at this point, I drizzled them with olive oil and kept them in the pan where they were cooked). Chop the spinach, season with salt & pepper and a pich of nutmeg, then add some fresh cream. Slice the tomatoes and grate the cheese. In an ovenproof dish, put a layer of creamed spinach on the bottom, a layer of tomatoes, a layer of grated cheese and finish with a layer of potatoes. Place in a pre-heated oven until the potatoes are golden. I cheated on the spinach and used frozen épinards à la crème. I was improvising, after all... I regret not using some garlic (that was very out of character!) and I think it would make the dish a lot better.

You may wish to alter the order of the layers (but not the potato layer) or add some grated cheese on top of the potatoes for the last ten minutes or so. Introduce any variations according to your own tastes and see where it takes you. The idea is to make potatoes more interesting...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Pumpkin, carrot and beetroot soup

Pumpkins are plentiful at this time of the year so I made a soup that will give you a bumper dose of the important anti-oxidant beta carotene. It was delicious!


Pumpkin, diced
Trimmed leeks
A couple of potatoes
Dry white wine
Chicken bouillon
Onion and garlic
A small amount of grated ginger
Salt & pepper to taste.


Dice onions, chop garlic, cut all vegetables into chunks. I didn't give exact amounts of anything, you can vary according to taste and how much soup you're making. In a large pan, fry the onions until golden. Add the veggies, mix well, add the garlic, paprika, ginger, white wine and enough bouillon for the amount of vegetables. Adjust seasoning. Simmer for about 1 hour. Check that everything is cooked, whizz the lot in a blender, re-heat gently, taste and adjust seasoning and serve.

The colour of this soup is something to behold! I forgot to take a photo of my own soup, but the one in the photo above looks quite similar to what we enjoyed the other evening.