Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cheddar Spritz Crackers

For the holidays I like to make star-shaped buttery vanilla spritz cookies topped with Hershey's kisses aka "Nipple Cookies" but my current obsession with savoury cookies (they go better with booze!) led me to this recipe for savoury cheddar spritz crackers.
This recipe also gives me further justification for the cookie press that has been sitting in my pantry and comes out only at the holidays.
These are a spicy cheesy cookie, made with cheddar and a healthy dose of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. Spritz or cookie press cookies are a bit of a pain to make because you need to get into a bit of a rhythm with the cookie press. Too much pressure results in squished cookie blobs and too little the cookies will burn and the shape won't be perfect. I tried experimenting with a different design rather than delicate star shapes, because these shortbread don't taste dainty and I think the waffle pattern I chose is more fitting to a boldly flavoured spicy cookie.

Cheddar Spritz Crackers
Makes: about 8 dozen cookies

  • 1 lb sharp cheddar or aged swiss finely shredded
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • dash of hot red pepper sauce
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a medium bowl, cream cheese, butter, Worcestershire sauce, and hot red pepper sauce until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix flour and seasoning together.Gradually add in to cheese mixture. Mix until dough forms a smooth ball.
  3. Shape dough into small logs and place in cookie press. Using desired shape, press shapes onto cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet on cooling rack. Remove from from sheet and continue to cool on rack.
Adapted from: Wilton Cookie Master Plus: Appetizers, Crackers and More! recipe and instruction booklet.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Green Label" Cheese Straws

This recipe is from a vintage recipe booklet from a company called "Green Label," which I gleaned used to make some form of margarine or butter substitute. I liked the book because the recipes seemed reasonable by today's standards and because of this recipe for cheddar straws.
I also was intrigued because many of the recipes in the book have no butter or eggs and could be easily adapted for people with dietary restrictions. That being said this recipe is not one of those. It's main ingredient is cheese.
I substituted butter for the Green Label because I am not entirely sure just what Green Label is and because I like butter. Mmm butter.
The recipe is a basic pie pastry type preparation but with "nippy" cheese added to it to make things interesting. Mmm..."Nippy."
The only tricky part about this recipe is cutting the dough into thin strips and then transferring the strips to the baking sheet and once they were baked, transferring them to a rack to cool. Much breakage occurred. I ate the rejects.
Another tricky thing is that in vintage recipe fashion, the Green Label book was typically vague about the exact baking time of these straws. They are quite thin and bake at a high temperature so I settled on about 10 minutes when the straws began to brown at the edges. That being said depending on the size of your straws and your oven temperature, this is a recipe you have to watch.
You can't really go wrong inviting cheesy pastry to your cocktail party so I highly recommend trying these if only for nostalgia's sake.

Cheese Straws

makes: approximately 1 dozen straws

  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1 cup grated "nippy" cheese, i took this to mean cheddar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 6 tablespoons Green Label, I assumed Green Label was some kind of margarine. I used Butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • cold water
  1. Blend flour, cheese, mustard, and cayenne. Cut in butter.
  2. Mix Worcestershire sauce with 2 tablespoons cold water and work into Green Label mixture.
  3. Work in just enough water to make a pastry.
  4. Roll out to 1/4 -inch thick and cut into strips, approximately 5-inches long and 1/4 -inch wide.
  5. Bake in 400 degree f oven until golden brown. This took me about 10 minutes. Leave the straws to firm up on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool as they will be less likely to crack that way.
Adapted From: Green Label Cookbook (date of publishing, unknown)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cranberry Seed Muffins

These muffins were some of the best cranberry muffins I have had in a while. they are sweet, use wholewheat flour and wheat bran without being heavy or tasting "healthy", they use the tenderizing powers of buttermilk, they have citrus zest to complement the tart whole cranberries...they puff up perfectly in the oven especially of you fill the pans to the top (OK, so I ran out of paper cupcake liners, I made taller muffins not more, what's your excuse?), they are studded with lightly salty sunflower and pumpkin seeds...making them seasonal, and sweet.
These are probably my consummate muffin as it conforms to my rules of muffin-hood
1. Made with healthy ingredients but doesn't taste healthy.
2 Butter and buttermilk. Need i say more?
3. They dome up into almost bakery looking muffin proportions
4. They are aesthetically pleasing because they are topped of with seeds and bran flakes....over top of the bursting cranberry stains the batter
5. they are light and fluffy. Fluffy is always a good thing.
6. They are sweet enough to make you feel like you've had a treat but are wholesome enough to be eaten for breakfast.

If a muffin does not conform to these rules it is hereby exiled to the land of cupcakedom- not a bad fate considering, but then you can't justify eating them for breakfast....and that is saddening.

Cranberry Seed Muffins
Time: approx 1 hour
Makes: 12-16 muffins

  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat or wheat bran
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/3 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp finely grated orange rind
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 cups thawed cranberries
    3 tbsp each oat bran, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
  1. In large bowl, whisk together all-purpose and whole wheat flours, oat bran, baking powder, baking soda and salt ; whisk in sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk granulated sugar, brown sugar and orange rind; whisk in eggs and buttermilk. Whisk in butter until combined; stir in flour mixture in 2 additions just until combined. Stir in cranberries. Spoon in to 12 greased muffin cups.


Sprinkle with oat bran, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Bake in 375°F oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack.

Adapted from: Canadian Living Magazine September 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Cranberry Vanilla Sorbet

Cranberry and Vanilla Bean sorbet
Makes 1 quart sorbet
Pareve/ vegan
8-ish servings
calories: 220, fat: 1, fiber:2 g

a floral and tart sorbet, the vanilla bean mellows the flavour of the cranberries. Its also ruby red!

• 1 12-oz bag of cranberries (about 3 cups)
• 2-1/2 cups water
• 2 cups sugar
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• ¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1. Combine cranberries, 2-1/2 cups water, sugar and salt in a large heavy saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Add bean to mixture and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low; simmer until cranberries pop and are soft, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
2. Remove vanilla bean from cranberry mixture. Working in batches, puree cranberry mixture in blender. Strain into large bowl; discard solids. Stir in lemon juice. Refrigerate cranberry mixture until well-chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight.
3. Transfer cranberry mixture to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturers instructions. Transfer sorbet to container; cover and freeze.

Adapted from: Bon Appetit Magazine November 2009

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Parmesan Flan with Cherry Tomatoes

I am intrigued by the idea of savoury flans and custards (as well as shortbreads), because I think it's one of those things we expect to be sweet but using savoury elements like cheese and tomatoes and herbs as flavourings can create very interesting dishes...
I also just love eggs. they are kinda miraculous.
These custards are made by flavouring eggs and cream with parmesan cheese instead of sugar or vanilla and then poring the custard over sauteed cherry tomatoes. Sauteeing the tomatoes enhances their flavour and makes them sweet and juicy. Be careful when you eat them, however, as the tomatoes release water and can burst into like burning bubbles of delicious lava in your mouth, and itcan hurt if youre not prepared for that. I think they just need a few minutes to set when come out of the oven for the tomatoe juices to calm down. If I just came out of an oven I know I would.
These have so many delectable possibilities that I want to experiment with. I bet these would be amazing with sauteed mushrooms and thyme instead of tomatoes and basil...Think I'm on to something? ;)

Parmesan and Cherry Tomato Flan.

Makes 6

This is basically a quiche filling that gets poured into ramekins instead of into pastry and gets baked in a water bath to keep them super silky and fluffy.

I bet this would work really well with mushrooms, spinach, broccoli or different cheeses like asiago as well…The possibilities are endless.

  • 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons basil (garnish)

    1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F. Butter 6 6-oz ramekins and line the bottom of each with parchment paper (I skipped the parchment because who wants to cut out all those little circles?) Butter the paper. Have ready a baking dish that can accommodate a water bath and 6 ramekins.
    2. In a frying pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the tomatoes and sauté stirring often until they soften and the liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 6 minutes. Stir in the chopped basil and cook for 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the tomato mixture into the prepared ramekins, dividing it evenly among them.
    3. In a bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, and egg yolk until blended. Stir the cheese into the custard, and then divide the custard evenly among the ramekins.
    4. Place the ramekins in the pan, and pour hot water into the pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is set, about 35 minutes. Carefully transfer the baking pan to wire rack, let custards cool slightly, then lift the ramekins out of the water bath.
    5. To unmould, run a knife around the edge of the ramekins. Place a serving plate on top of each ramekin and invert. Lift off the ramekins and peel off the parchment if using. Serve topped with more tomatoes and garnish with basil. Serve warm.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Carrot Gingerbread Muffins

This recipe is essentially a gingerbread cake batter that gets shredded carrots folded into it. It is really more gingerbread cake than carrot muffin. I love the flavour of these, there is quite a large amount of ground ginger in the batter and it gives the muffins a spicy kick while the cinnamon lends its lingering warmth to the palate. These "muffins" have the texture of delicate soft fluffy cakes. I think these would be delicious with cream cheese frosting, although that would definitely take them out of muffin-land and into cupcake territory.

Carrot Gingerbread Muffins

Time: 1 hour

  • 1/2 sup golden raisins
  • 2-1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cu packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup fancy molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cups plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 2 cups shredded carrots
  1. In bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves.
  2. In large bowl, beat butter with brown and granulated sugars until light, about 1 minute. Beat in molasses and vanilla; beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in flour mixture; stir in yogurt until combined. Fold in carrots and raisins just until combined. Spoon into paper-lined or greased muffin cups.
  3. Bake in 350°F (180°C) oven until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer to rack; let cool.

adapted from: Canadian Living Magazine Sept 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Brown Basmati Rice Pudding

This recipe makes a rich dairy free rice pudding. This version is quite spicy due to the amount of ginger that is infused during cooking. The ginger makes this pudding so much more exotic and alluring and it was a welcome change from my regular rice pudding recipe.
Brown basmati rice is notable for its toasty fragrance that combined with the aromatic scent of the cinnamon stick and fresh ginger made my kitchen smell deliciously comforting. The coconut milk makes this dish rich and coconutty in a subtle way and complements the nuttiness of the brown rice. This is quite the wholesome recipe considering it is made with whole grain rice and only 4 tablespoons of sugar. It is the perfect ending to an Indian style meal served with spicy chai tea.

Brown Basmati Rice Pudding

Serves 4
time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, mostly inactive
  • 1 cup brown basmati rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup soy or rice milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1-inch piece ginger peeled and thinly sliced
  • 6 cardamom pods crushed (optional)
  • 3 -inch long cinnamon stick
  • 4 tablespoons/ 2oz/ 60 grams brown sugar
  • 1 can "lite" coconut milk, about 2 cups, (can replace 1/2 with soymilk, if low on coconut milk.)
  • 1 cup golden or dark raisins (optional)
  1. Rinse the basmati rice and place in a heavy bottomed pot. Add water, soy milk, salt, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and cover for 45 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sugar and coconut milk and simmer the rice without a lid over low heat (there should be bubbles breaking the surface especially as the liquid begins to evaporate). Cook until the liquid evaporates and the pudding thickens, about 30-35 minutes. Remove the ginger slices, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.
From: Rebar Modern Food Cookbook

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Three Seed Biscuits

These are delicious with soups or with roasted red pepper dip or hummus. Good, savoury biscuits to serve as a hearty warming appetizer, cut into stick shape for optimal soup-dipping.

Three Seed Biscuits

Makes: 12 biscuits

Time: 45minutes.

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds
  • ¼ flaxseeds (ground or whole)
  • ¼ cup wheat germ (or bran)
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup cold butter, cubed
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg or egg white, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

    1. Whisk together all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, wheat germ or bran, sugar, baking powder and salt. Using a pastry blender cut in butter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in milk to form a soft slightly sticky dough.
    2. With floured hands, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead gently 10 times. Pat out to 7-inch square. Cut into quartets; cut each quarter into 3 strips. Place, 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with egg; sprinkle with sesame seeds.
    3. Bake in centre of 425 degree F oven until golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool on pan on rack.

Adapted from: Canadian Living Magazine November 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sugar Cookie Aviary

Showing off my cookie cutters, this is an old photo but I like it a lot (the cooling rack is like a cage! Get it?). I think I need to have a bird themed party! No recipe today because my sugar cookie recipe is top-secret!!!!