This Dame Cooks A Collection of Recipes from Alaska to the South Pacific and Caribbean

Sugar Cookies with Cardamom

Easter Cookies - photo by Wisconsinfood.com

Easter Cookies – photo by Wisconsinfood.com

No matter what the holiday or occasion sugar cookies are colorful reminders of love and caring. Easter really snuck up on me this year. One minute I was working on a new doll pattern and the next minute a friend was calling for Easter cookies.  Sugar cookies are the easiest to make but rather tasteless so I tweaked the recipe with a bit of cardmom and some homemade vanilla extract.  A couple drops of almond extract add a nice flavor to the Royal Icing and doesn’t muddle the cardamom flavor of the cookie.

Time was of the essence while I iced and decorated the baked cookies and hoped the icing would dry before placing them in individual bags with ribbon ties.  Ribbon?  Well no time to shop for ribbons so a pink plastic bag, cut into strips, was the remedy.  Then, just to be generous I made a felt bunny to add to the basket (link to pattern below) .  And when the basket was all done and on its way out the door I suddenly remembered I didn’t take any photos…duh!  The photo below is from Rhea’s iphone.  The felt bunny is the star rather than the cookies but its all good until next year.  I used the cookies cutters as depicted in the photo at the right.  Needless to say Rhea was delighted with the basket of decorated cookies and the felt bunny.

Couple of tips for making crisp cookies:

1)  Chill the dough at least 2 hours

2)  Cut off a piece of chilled dough just big enough to roll for one cookie

3)  Sprinkle a piece of plastic wrap with flour, place the dough on the flour, sprinkle the top lightly with more flour and cover with another piece of plastic wrap, then roll to desired thickness (1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick), remove the top plastic and cut with a floured cookie cutter.  If the dough is cold enough the cut-out will be easy to release and transfer to the baking sheet using the plastic wrap.

Easter bunny 24)  Place the baking sheet with the cut-outs in the freezer until firm – this will prevent them from spreading during baking.  I like to use parchment paper on the baking sheets – comes in handy if you want to move the chilled cut-outs and for easy release when baked.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter at room temperature (use salted butter)
  • 1-1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (pure vanilla or homemade vanilla extract)
  • 2-3/4 cups all purpose flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom

Method:

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together, add the eggs and vanilla and beat until fluffy.
  2. Whisk the cardamom with the flour and add to the butter cream in 3 additions.  The dough will be quite soft.
  3. Scrape the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap and cover it completely shaping it into a rectangle or disc.
  4. Chill the dough until firm, at least 2 hours.  Roll and cut-out cookies (see tips above).
  5. Bake in a preheated 350° F. oven until barely browned on the edges, about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of cookie.  Lightly touch the center of a cookie to check for doneness.  The less it gives, the more done is the cookie.

thumb_1248_48289_DIYFELTBUNNYsewingpattern_1       http://www.craftsy.com/pattern/sewing/toy/diy-felt-bunny-sewing-pattern/48289

 

Sourdough Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

02.28.2013 · Posted in Pies, Cakes & Cookies, Recipes

DSCF0793Sourdough always makes me think of San Francisco or Anchorage.  After all it was the gold prospectors of the early 1900′s who made sourdough a staple of the last frontiers of our nation.  Often times the miners kept a ball of sourdough in their pocket so they’d always have the yeast to make a batch of bread or biscuits.

Not only is sourdough bread one of my true eating pleasures but growing my own sourdough starter and making other sourdough goodies is right up there on the accomplishment scale.    I love sourdough biscuits, pancakes, crepes, pizza crusts, sourdough spice cake and this basic sourdough cookie recipe.   It’s perfect for making oatmeal raisin cookies with crisp outsides and soft insides.  There’s just a tad of tang that plays nicely with the blue berry raisins and a hint of brown sugar that caramelizes on the outside.  The pecans add a bit of crunch.

The first thing you’ll need is a sourdough starter.  If you have one already, take it out of the refrigerator and feed it at least 2 times over the next 24 hours.  You know the drill, stir 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water into the starter, cover and let ferment in a warm place.  Be sure to refrigerate the left over starter…or make a batch of bread.  If you don’t have a starter, make one…easy peasy recipes are all over the web or use my sourdough starter recipe.

Ingredients for 3 dozen cookies:

  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar (or dark brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups quick oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup dried fruit and nuts of choice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

Method:

  1.  Stir the sourdough starter until it is smooth then measure 1/2 cup and place in a medium sized bowl.  Melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds.  Whisk the eggs and butter into the sourdough starter.  Cover and let set for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Whisk the sugar and vanilla into the sourdough batter until the sugar dissolves.  Add the oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt and stir.
  4. Toss the fruit and nuts with the baking soda then fold into the sourdough batter.
  5. Drop batter by teaspoon onto prepared cookie sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until bottoms and edges of cookies are golden brown.
  6. Remove from baking sheet to a cooling rack.  Store cooled cookies in an airtight container.

Cherry and Almond Loaf

01.28.2013 · Posted in Breads, Pies, Cakes & Cookies, Recipes

Cherry and Almond Loaf

This was a spur-of-the-moment quick bread made with leftover frozen cherries and toasted almonds.  It turned out so moist and flavorful with hints of cinnamon and nutmeg along with the crunch of the almonds and sweetness of the cherries.  This recipe is adapted from a Hawaiian Mango Bread recipe I picked up a zillion years ago while traveling through Honolulu.  Just add chopped mango, coconut and macadamia nuts in place of the cherries and almonds and you’ll have Hawaiian Mango Bread.  Actually, you can use any fruit and nut you desire and come up with your own version.  Be sure to use the yogurt as it activates the baking soda and baking powder giving you a super light crumb instead of a dense and heavy mass.

Do try this recipe.  It is great toasted or just warm from the oven with butter if you dare.  Let a few slices dry out and make French toast with it.  Its absolutely the bomb with flambeed fruit and ice cream or warm homemade fruit syrup.

The recipe given is for a standard 9X5-inch loaf pan, or 12 cupcake size muffins, 6 Texas size muffins or 4 mini loaves.  Add this recipe to your Christmas baking – great gifts from your kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups cherries, halved (fresh, frozen or dried)
  • 1 cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped (or almonds of your choice…slivered, sliced etc.)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil of choice
  • 1 cup sugar of choice (light brown sugar or raw sugar adds that molasses tone)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or 1/2 tsp each vanilla and almond extract
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.  Grease and flour a loaf pan or muffin tin.
  2. In a medium sized bowl mix all dry ingredients with a whisk.  Toss dry mix with fruit and 1/2 cup of nuts.
  3. In a separate bowl beat the oil with the sugar until creamy and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition.  Add the vanilla and yogurt.
  4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until all flour is moistened, about 10 or 12 strokes with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with remaining chopped nuts.
  6. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove to a cooling rack, let set 5 minutes before turning out loaf.
  7. Allow to cool another 10 minutes or more before slicing.

Homemade Dijon Mustard

After much research I found a recipe for homemade German mustard and just had to tweak it for my version of a Dijon mustard.  Dijon is the mustard most often used in gourmet recipes and making it at home will save money and guarantee quality plus you’ll always know what is in it.  Making your own condiments just couldn’t be easier when you start with a tried and true recipe.  There’s lots of room to adapt this recipe to your particular tastes, so play around with it and make it your own.   You might like to try tarragon vinegar or regular granulated white sugar, maybe some onion juice or garlic powder.  I like to use this mustard in my homemade mayonnaise for some real zip.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup white wine (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard seeds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup apple-cider vinegar (or vinegar of your choice)
  • 1/2 cup water (filtered or un-chlorinated water)
  • 6  Tbsp mustard powder of your choice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp raw sugar (or light brown sugar)
  • 1 tsp Wondra Flour (or all-purpose flour)

Method:

  1. Soak mustard seeds in white wine over night.  Strain and add seeds to a small sauce pan.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients to the sauce pan and whisk thoroughly to eliminate lumps and make it smooth.
  3. Over medium heat, stir with a wooden spoon and cook until it begins to bubble.  Lower heat and continue to cook until it thickens and starts to mound on the spoon.
  4. Remove from heat and spoon into a clean jar.  It will thicken more as it cools.  Cover with a lid and refrigerate.  It will keep for months.

Notes:

  1. If it doesn’t seem to be thickening after 3 or 4 minutes of cooking, add 1 Tbsp more of powdered mustard and whisk vigorously to combine.
  2. Add Homemade Dijon Mustard to your list of gourmet gift items.

How to Make Sauerkraut in a Jar

01.18.2013 · Posted in Preserves & Condiments

I have a new batch of sauerkraut that will be ready next week, probably Thursday.  Easy Peasy method:  just shred cabbage on a mandolin, add salt (3 Tbsp per 5 pounds of cabbage), bruise the salted cabbage with your hands and pack it really, really tight into a jar. You want the juice to float above the cabbage at least 1 inch.   Place another jar inside to hold the cabbage under the juice…or use giant glass marbles (sterilized of-course).  Set it on your counter on a plate with a tea-towel covering.  Wait 10 or 12 days and voila, old world “sauerkraut”!  Refrigerate to stop fermenting.  Will keep in frig up to a month or longer.
You can add Juniper berries to the fermenting cabbage for a real old-world flavor. Once the sauerkraut is ready, cook up some sauerbraten and add to a pot of hot sauerkraut cooked with chunks of apple and a teaspoon of caraway or fennel seeds.  Serve with mashed potatoes and homemade Dijon mustard.
To store long-term, heat sauerkraut and its juice in a stainless steel pot just to a boil, pack into hot sterilized jars, seal with lids and rings, water bath in boiling water for 15 minutes.  Remove to a draft free area and let cool.  Check seal on lids, store in a dry, cool pantry or cupboard for 1 year or longer.  Refrigerate any jars that did not seal properly.
If you have questions please enter them in the comment section below.  Next up:  Homemade Dijon Mustard