Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Gingerbread Scones

This is a recipe that my mother received from her sister. Mama Noonie, as she was known to me (and don't ask why - it's a Southern thing) - anyway, Mama Noonie was considered something of a gourmet in our family. She enjoyed cooking things Mama considered "fancy." That meant they included such exotic ingredients as cooking sherry or cognac, neither of which Mama used in her more down home style cuisine. In fact, I think Mama would have considered it quite scandalous to be seen in a liquor store to purchase cognac.

Anyway, this recipe doesn't call for anything truly unusual. It's a scone recipe that is akin to a soft gingerbread cookie. I think it's the perfect complement to coffee or tea either in the morning or afternoon.

I prepared them the way Mama Noonie's recipe read with just an egg white wash on top to give them a bit of a sheen. However, if you like, these would lend themselves very nicely to a lemon or orange glaze or even whipped cream.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spice Coffee Cake

Spice Coffee CakeHonestly, I had no idea that Saturday we were going from Spring back to Winter here in the desert! I'd decided to make a little coffee cake though because I wanted to do a cake but not something overly involved. I also had a taste from something with an interesting variety of flavors.

This cake fit the bill admirably. It's based on an old coffee cake recipe and as such is slightly more crumbly than I usually prefer. However, I believe that can be overcome by switching around how it is assembled. The original recipe calls for all the ingredients to be beat together. However, doing it in a more classic "cake" manner would probably help: cream the butter and sugar then add the egg, sift together the dry ingredients, and then add to batter alternating with milk. I'd also suggest sifting the dry ingredients which the old recipe does not.

The original coffee cake recipe calls for raisins and nuts. I'm not a fan of raisins (sorry) so opted to leave that out. I thought about including nuts but I've been using nuts in so much lately, decided it would be nice to have something more plain. If you're inclined to nuts and raisins you can add 1/2 cup of raisins to the batter just before pouring into the pan and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts to the Streusel.

I also used my Garam Masala spice mix instead of Allspice in this. However, you can use Allspice in the same amounts if you prefer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Coconut Brownies

Good ol' Charleston Receipts comes through again with a wonderful brownie recipe. This is more of a blondie brownie but chock full of coconut and nuts. The original recipe calls for pecans (of course) but I decided to use some walnuts I had left over in their place. I think either works fine for this. I also reduced the nuts from 1 full cup to 1/2 cup since I'm not a huge fan of brownies with more nuts than brownie.

This is baked in two stages with a cookie/cake crust on the bottom. Be sure when you do this one that you make sure your crust is nicely browned before you add your other ingredients. The "topping" is very wet and if the crust isn't done it will soak through and be a bit mushy on the bottom. I found this out the hard way.

This has an intense caramel flavor balanced by the chewiness of the coconut and the nutty flavor of the walnuts (or pecans).

The original recipe is by Mrs. A Franz Witte, Jr. (Lula Thomas Jenkins) in case you're interested.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

"If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!" Remember that old song from kindergarten or pre-school? For some reason that little tune is tied up in my mind with those lemon sandwich cookies that come in huge packages in the grocery store. I can remember at "Little Folks Kindergarten" back in Newberry, SC that Mrs. Folk would pass them out to us as a snack. I also remember singing that song just before snack time. I assume that is where the link originated.

Anyway, I've always loved those little cookies even if the cookies themselves sometimes taste a little bland or the lemon has a faint chemical taste. But, wouldn't it be great to have a little lemon sandwich cookie that was actually good enough to serve not only to kids but adults?

Behold, an old lemon sandwich cookie recipe I found in a very old copy of a Betty Crocker cookbook. It's easy to do and the results are very good. The cookie has a nice texture and buttery taste while the filling has a true lemon tartness that really zings!

This is a great one for afternoon snacks for the kids or even an afternoon tea. Of course, if you're like me, they also go great with a lemon Coke and the TV!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Indian Spice Cookies

As we were preparing our Indian dinner the other evening, Sandy and I were discussing the fabulous smell and taste of the Garam Masala spice mix. I thought it would make an excellent ingredient for a spice cake or spice cookie with its interesting blend of familiar notes like cinnamon and ginger as well as more exotic sensations like cardamom and cumin.

So, I decided to whip up a batch of cookies using the Garam Masala as the major taste contribution. They turned out better than I'd even hoped for at the outset. They have a nice soft and chewy texture and the flavor is complex and alluring with the tiniest bite on the finish that warms the mouth.

When I make these again I may continue the Indian theme and dip one end in a lemon or mango (maybe even banana) frosting and then roll in crushed pistachios. The flavors would be amazing and the presentation would be beautiful and a nice compliment to the already great flavor.

Friday, February 5, 2010

John Suter's Chicken Tetrazzini

Luisa Tettrazini
Sometime you fear something special has been lost. This was my fear since I hadn't seen this recipe in quite a long time. This was a recipe written down by my husband's teacher, mentor and friend, John Suter. John was one of those people you always wish you could have met. He was of that generation of artists who lived well, laughed much, and seemed to know everyone.

This recipe typed on his stationery has been one of Michael's treasured memories of John. We've only made this dish once since we've been together and it was for a small dinner party at our home in South Carolina when we hosted my brother and his partner as well as his partner's stepmother and father. It was a lovely evening made even more so by this wonderful dish.

Be prepared, this makes quite a lot so either have lots of people invited or be prepared for leftovers for quite some time!

By the way, do you know the story of Chicken Tetrazzini? The story goes that it is named for Luisa Tetrazzini who was an Italian coloratura soprano in the early 20th Century. The dish Chicken Tetrazzini originated in San Francisco where she resided for a long time and was quite popular with the patrons of the San Francisco Opera House. The fable goes that she loved the dish so much that she would eat hardly anything else.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Indian Dinner with Friends

As our New Year's Resolution, Sandy and I made a pact that we would get together at least once a month for a couples night. This month we decided to do a homecooked Indian dinner since Michael bought a new Indian food cookbook for me. It's Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.

Sandy and I decided on a menu based on chicken with a few other favorite ingredients deciding the side dishes. You'll notice an ingredient in the list called "garam masala." This is a wonderful spice blend used in many dishes and can be found at international specialty stores or Indian grocers. If you don't have any nearby you can get it online at .

We'd originally planned to do a Banana Halva for dessert, but by the time we'd finished up everything else everyone wanted to start eating. Of course, we'd all been snacking on my peanut butter buckeyes while cooking, so the sweet tooth had been satiated anyway.

And yes, that is a Christmas plate you see in the photo. By the time we'd finished cooking everyone was in such a hurry to eat that Michael just grabbed plates from the cabinet and that's the one that I happened to get a photo of before the food was devoured! 

Monday, February 1, 2010

Peanut Butter Buckeyes

I'd been wanting to try this little confection for quite awhile but just hadn't gotten around to it. Finally, during one of my middle of the night bursts of creativity, I pulled out the ingredients and got started.

I'm a peanut butter fiend, so love just about anything that incorporates peanut butter. I've seen a fair number of variations of this candy over the years. This particular one is based on a recipe by Paula Deen and I chose it for it's fairly simple and straightforward approach. 

These are very simple and quick to make (especially if you use my shortcut) and make a great homemade candy treat. I could certainly see this being presented in a little box for Valentine's Day.

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