Monday, October 31, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Supremes

Page 86 in the old book / page 129 in the new book

These cookies have a crumbly oatmeal walnut base, a sweet chocolate middle, and more of the oatmeal mixture on top, as well as an added sprinkling of walnuts. They're good, but too sweet for my taste.

This recipe, as do a number of Maida Heatter's cookie recipes, calls for instant coffee. On the other occasions when I've used it, I couldn't identify the flavor in the finished cookie and just presumed it added to the overall effect. In these cookies, though, I felt there was a harsh (instant) coffee flavor that even rose above the excessive sweetness. No one else commented on it, so it may not have been noticeable to anyone but me.

I didn't get Phils comments before he left on vacation, but the opinions of the rest of the panel varied widely...

Suzanne: "I'll be on a sugar high all day. The cookie was extremely sweet. So sweet, that I found it hard to eat. Rating - 2.0"

Denny: "Best Oatmeal cookies ever! Really. Rating - 5.0"

Laura: "Tasty... but not sure how well I care for the combination of the oatmeal/walnut with the chocolate. Rating - 3.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.3

Next week - Dark Rocky Roads

Nutrition Facts

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Prune Blogging Thursday - Prune Bread

Yes, that's right - didn't you see the announcement? I couldn't resist participating (even if I am a little late)... such an unfairly maligned little fruit. This one time event was proposed by David Lebovitz and believe it or not, he's already written the round-up. I hesitated to post my homely little entry after seeing David's heroic efforts making chocolate macarons with prune filling (7 batches!), but I must show my support for the prune - however humbly...

I've always liked prunes, but I've never been crazy about prune juice. When I was a kid, my Mom often served a mixture of orange and prune juice at breakfast. I'm not sure if the reason was economy, nutrition, or just plain preference. Since I favored unadulterated orange juice, I always assumed that the orange juice was the scarce commodity and prune juice was her way of stretching it out. These days, with orange essence prunes in every grocery store, I'm thinking maybe she was ahead of her time.

I don't know the origin of this recipe, which uses both prunes and prune juice, but it is one my Mom grew up with. I've turned the tables on her, and have swapped orange juice for some of the prune juice. I also threw in a little orange zest for good measure. With whole wheat flour and prunes, there can be no doubt about the motives behind this recipe!

Prune Bread

The texture of this loaf is surprisingly light for a whole grain bread and the orange really is a nice complement. If I remember right, I believe we sometimes had this with baked beans rather than brown bread.

1 cup pitted prunes (I used bite size and left them whole, but it might be better to cut them up)
1/2 cup prune juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tbs butter
1 egg, beaten slightly
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
zest from one orange

Warm the juices and butter together until the butter melts. Put the prunes and juice mixture in a mixing bowl. Add egg and sugar. Add dry ingredients and orange zest. Bake in greased loaf tin for one hour at 350 F.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 26th

It's been a little busy around here lately and I've been eating from the freezer rather than cooking (unless reheating leftover beans and heating up burritos in the microwave counts as cooking?) It doesn't help that my kitchen hasn't recovered yet from this week's cookies...

I'm playing hooky from Dining with the Bloggers this week, but Zarah's not, so go have a taste of what she's cooked up. I'll be back on schedule next week!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

Page 84 in the old book / page 130 in the new book

This cookie is one of the reasons I love Maida Heatter. The recipe is an old favorite of mine, though I hadn't made it in several years. It seems complicated when you first read through it, but actually it's quite simple to make. First comes a shortbread base, a little jam is spread over that, then there's a chocolate walnut layer, then some rich chocolate icing, and finally a sprinkling of walnuts. It's a masterpiece.

The recipe calls for apricot jam, but some time back I began substituting seedless red raspberry jam. The apricot jam is good, but not at all noticeable. I love chocolate and raspberry and the seedless raspberry jam has the added advantage that it isn't lumpy, so it's easy to spread in a thin, uniform layer.

I've never tasted the middle layer in these cookies all by itself, and I'm wishing now I had. It's interesting because it has no flour. It consists of ground walnuts, eggs, dark brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, and salt. It has surprisingly little cocoa in it, but gives the impression of being quite fudgy. I expect this is due in part to the thick layer of near-solid chocolate icing that sits atop. The amount of brown sugar in the layer and its appearance probably contribute as well.

Overall, the cookies are not overly sweet, but are quite chocolatey, with an occasional, brief burst of raspberry. They have a lovely mix of textures and are pretty to look at (my photo doesn't do them justice).

I got a chuckle when I read Suzanne's comment. I delivered her cookie to her (she was out the first day I brought them in) in a plastic baggie which I plunked on her desk so that the cookie wasn't even standing upright...

Suzanne: "These cookies/bars looked as if they should be served on a silver tray. They looked elegant and were delicious. Rating - 5.0"

Denny: "Excellent, but I couldn't taste the raspberry. Rating - 5.0!"

Laura: "Yummy shortbread coupled with chocolate and walnuts - a delicious combination! Rating - 4.0"

Phil: "A distinctive, titillating combination of flavors and textures tempered by a shortbread base. Looks great and tastes even better. Not a dessert to be served to just anyone. Rating - 5.0"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.8

Next week - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

Nutrition Facts

Blogging by Mail 3 - The Round-up

The packages have landed...

*** 110 Packages arrived *** 8 Packages in the mail ***

Nearly all the package have arrived. There are a few more that hopefully will find there way soon. Be sure to let me know of any late arrivals - I'll happily update the list!

In other news: BBM4 has been announced!

Here's the list of BBM3 participants with the latest on package departures and arrivals...

Kim of Stepping Stones >>pkg in the mail
>> Kim's package from Stephanie arrived in Albania, but unfortunately Kim is temporarily in Canada so her husband is home enjoying its contents. The package was loaded with Halloween candy and also included skull wine goblets, homemade lemon marmelade, and 2 CD's of Stephanie's favorite music (Stephanie must have been reading Jason's mind!).

Clare of eat stuff - New South Wales >>pkg arrived
>> Clare's package from Ruth arrived - details soon!
Niki of Esurientes - The Comfort Zone - Victoria >>pkg arrived
>> Niki's package from Jocelyn arrived with homemade rum-soaked cranberry muffins, Mexican wedding cookies, and Thanksgiving-themed chocolates from Joseph Schmidt.
Cindy of A Few of My Favourite Things! - Victoria >>pkg arrived
>> Cindy's package from Mari arrived with the most amazing cookies you've ever seen - you must take a look!
Ed of Tomato - Victoria >>pkg arrived
>> Ed's package from Sue arrived with Scharffen Berger chocolate, US-themed cookie cutters, Chick-O-Sticks candy, and a cocktail book.

Eva >>pkg arrived
>> Eva's package from Chiara arrived with Pannetone, Torrone, Sardinian honeys, and homemade preserved peppers.

Jason (aka Templar) of Food Ninja - Manitoba >>pkg arrived
>> Jason's package from Nico arrived with Belgian chocolate, BBQ sauce, an Almond filled cake, spice bread, and a wonderful stew recipe.
Ana of Pumpkin Pie Bungalow - Ontario >>pkg arrived
>> Ana's package from Kristina arrived with wonderful Swedish holiday treats including home baked Nut Tops and Lussekatter and much, much more!
Christine of Occasionally Christine - Ontario >>pkg arrived
>> Christine's package from Robin arrived with yummy homemade Mexican Wedding Cookies (and recipe) and several varieties of chocolate bars.
Nadine of that's real life - Saskatchewan >>pkg in the mail
>> Nadine's package from Bev arrived, after a little delay in customs, with some potent chili powder, a cookbook, cowpie, mango pear salsa, and lots more!

Krista of The Stichin' Sheep >>pkg arrived
>> Krista's package from Cindy arrived and as Krista put it, Cindy pretty much cleared out the candy aisle of some local candy store! Cindy also told Krista about how she celebrates her favorite holiday, the Chinese New Year. She also included some yarn in the package!
Melissa of Banlieue Blog >>pkg arrived

Kriszti >>pkg arrived
>>Kriszti's package from Karen arrived with a cut little teddy bear and all the fixin's for a real American Thanksgiving!

Chiara of la cuoca petulante >>pkg arrived
>> Chiara's package from Mickey arrived with everything one might need to celebrate Sinter Klaas, including chocolate, marzipan, cinnamon candles, and even cinnamon mustard!
Winnie of get in my head. or my belly. same thing. >>pkg arrived
>> Winnie's package from Mari arrive - more details soon!
Pascale >>pkg in the mail

Viviene of Sweets for My Sweet Tooth >>pkg arrived
>> Viviene's package from Niki arrived with all kinds of goodies - homemade plum & nectarine jam (mmmm... I know that's good!), home baked Anzac biscuits, all sorts of Australian candies, a Donna Hay magazine, and lots more!
Swee of Just Heavenly >>pkg arrived
>> Swee's package from Michelle arrived with a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook, souvenirs from Disney World, chocolate chip banana bread, lemon almond biscotti, and recipes.
Twink >>pkg arrived

Karen of bucaio >>pkg arrived
>> Karen's package from Celeste arrived with homemade Butterball cookies, Tootsie Rolls, Tazo teas, and Ghiradelli chocolates.

Cheryl of she bakes and she cooks >>pkg arrived
>> Cheryl's package from Sarah arrived with all sorts of Christmas goodies and surprises. Best of all were homebaked cookies - Schiklosch and Coconut macaroons - and the Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine.
Ruth of my little cyberspot >>pkg arrived
>> Ruth's package from Michelle arrived with Christmas candy, homemade candied walnuts, and family recipes for brownies and corn bread.
Kai of cooking baking eating enjoying - all about food >>pkg arrived
Debbie of Debbie's Multiply Site >>pkg arrived
>> Debbie's package from Lisette arrived and includes some yummy cookies and other goodies as well.
Cass of chef cass loves to cook >>pkg arrived
>> Cass' package from Christine arrived with lots of yummy chocolate and a food magazine.
Mumu of acuriousmix >>pkg arrived

South Korea
Jenn of I Got Two Shoes >>pkg arrived
>> Jenn's package from Eva arrived and was enjoyed by Jenn and her students! The package was loaded with all sorts of interesting and wonderful Swedish and Belgian treats from Reindeer salami to a gingerbread house kit. Surprise! A second package arrived from Eva with yet more treats including more Reindeer salami and Elk salami too!

Tracey of Tracey Marshall Knows Swedish >>pkg arrived
>> Tracey's package from Molly arrived with homemade chocolate and walnut cookies, pumpkin butter, Tazo tea, and the Thanksgiving issue of Food and Wine magazine.
Kristina of Clivia's cuisine >>pkg arrived
>> Kristina's package from Cass arrived Cass told Kristina about the Dragonboat festival and included makings for dumplings, dried limes and plums, laksa mix, and more!

The Netherlands
Lisette of drakakoe's love for food >>pkg arrived
>> Lisette's package from Sandra arrived with homemade citrus-pistachio cookies, candy, cookie cutter and tea towel, Christmas ornament, and much more!
Mari of Mevrouw Cupcake >>pkg arrived
>> Mari's package from Keri arrived - should hear more soon!
Mickey >>pkg arrived
>> Mickey's package from Shelley arrived with lots of goodies from Virginia, including a bread mix from a local tavern, Brunswick stew, ham paté, and peanuts. More details here.

Jess of Scarf-o-matic - England >>pkg arrived
>> Jess' package from Caryn arrived with homemade foodbars, Sharffen Berger chocolate bars, dried fruits, trail mix, and seeds for a plant that attract hummingbirds.
Vivian A Life in Food - England >>pkg arrived
>> Vivian's package from Gabrielle arrived with fig and ginger jam (ooh, that sounds good!), See's Candies, Green Tea Mints, and food sections, catalogues, and flyers galore!

Kitty of KittyBean - Pacific Northwest >>pkg arrived
>> Kitty's package from Nupur arrived...details to follow!
Leslie of unlikely domesticate - Alaska >>pkg arrived
>> Leslie's package from Kari arrived!
Robin - Arizona >>pkg arrived
>> Robin's package from Michelle arrived with homemade snickerdoodles and more!
Rainey of Making Myself a Garden - California >>pkg arrived
>> Rainey's package from Lisa arrived - more details later!
Janis of Yarn! - California >>pkg arrived
>> Janis' package from Andrea arrived with a bounty of Philly junk food and homemade macaroons!
Carrie - California >>pkg arrived
>> Carrie's package from Lindy arrived - should hear more soon!
Gabrielle of - California >>pkg arrived
>> Gabrielle's package from Amy arrived - details soon!
Mare of Marezone - California >>pkg arrived
>> Mare's package from Amy arrived with homemade pumpkin bread and spicy treats from Texas - Chipolte peppers and Razzpotle sauce.
Karen - California >>pkg arrived
>> Karen's package from Krista arrived and according to Karen it included "some very different things for a holiday we do not celebrate in [the US]." Karen enjoyed the experience and enjoyed getting to know Krista a little better through their emails.
Carol of Celadon Cupcake - California >>pkg arrived
>> Carol's package from Vivian arrived with some homemade shortbread and goodies from Marks & Spencer!
Lori & Evan of lorispeak - California >>pkg arrived
>> Lori & Evan's package from Stef with two Filipino breads - Pan de Sal and Ensaymada Espesyal.
Anne of let me eat bread - California >>pkg arrived
>> Anne's package from Jenn arrived with all sorts of interesting Korean treats - chocolate covered sunflower seeds, "health" rice, cheese rice flavoring, "smart" herb tea, and lots more!
Nic of bakingsheet - California >>pkg arrived
Sue - California >>pkg arrived
>> Sue's package from Julie arrived - details soon!
Robyn (aka Chronicler) of Food Chronicles - California >>pkg arrived
>> Robyn's package from Mumu arrived and included all sorts of goodies for celebrating the Chinese New Year - sauce mixes, dried guava, a food and wine magazine from Singapore, and recipes.
Celeste of Chopstick Cinema - California >>pkg arrived
>> Celeste's package from Lauren arrived with a candle, brownies, local creamed blackberry honey, and (of course) chopsticks!
Sima of daydreamr's photos - California >>pkg arrived
>> Sima's package from Grace arrived with delicious southern specialties including Brunswick stew, peanuts, and homemade pecan pie bars.
Mari of mischeif mari cookies - California >>pkg arrived
>> Mari's package from Mia arrived with a local cookbook, home baked hermit cookies, and pumpkin bread.
Kristy of Chef Kristy - California >>pkg arrived
>> Kristy's package from Jennifer arrived and included homebaked Spicy Sweet Potato Cookies and homemade Christmas Cracker Candies, as well as coffee and beignet mix.
Caryn of Delicious! Delicious! - California >>pkg arrived
>> Caryn's package from Amy arrived - did she share it with Mr. R? Stay tuned!
Nancy - California >>pkg in the mail
>> Nancy's package from Ruth arrived with foods from Philly including Herr's potato chips, Tastykakes, Ben Franklin Black Cherry Soda, Bookbinders snapper soup, and homemade Peach Melba jam!
Lisa of Comfort Food - California >>pkg arrived
>> Lisa's package from Viviene arrived with all sorts of sweets from Malaysia - chocolate, candies (including some Coconut/Durian Dudol mini candies), several kinds of cookies (including homemade cornflake cookies), and recipes too!
Jocelyn - California >>pkg arrived
>> Jocelyn's package from Raquel arrived and included homemade cookies, maple syrup and a magnet
Diane - TheUltimateTofu - California >>pkg in the mail
>> Diane's package from Heather arrived - details to follow!
Deborah - Colorado >>pkg arrived
>> Deborah's package from Swee arrived - details coming soon!
Samantha of The Samantha Files - Connecticut
>> Samantha's package from Kristy arrived - hope to hear more soon!
Jess of Snail Mail Creations - Connecticut >>pkg arrived
>> Jess' package from Dixie arrived with Smoky Mountain taffy, homegrown and home canned peaches (yum!), smoked sausage, and blackberry preserves from the Loveless Cafe in Nashville. Katherine of ToastPoint - Washington, DC >>pkg arrived
>> Katherine's package from Janis arrived with "purse" Tabasco sauce, homemade garlicky cranberry chutney, Ghiradelli chocolate, lemon-stuffed olives, fortune cookies and more!
Amy of Beauty Joy Food - Florida >>pkg arrived
>> Amy's package from Deb arrived with delicious chocolates (made by Deb!), her Mom's recipe for potato latkes, some sugarless bar cookies, and a package of menorah candles.
Cindy - Florida
>> According to the USPS, Cindy's package from Alice arrived. Alice included homebaked maple date bars and mocha-cappucino chip cookies, a Christmas cookbook, a Christmas tea towel, a set of citrus oils to use in baking, and a veggie dip mix.
Hannah of - Georgia >>pkg arrived
>> Hannah's package from Melissa arrived with mustard, caramels, vanilla sugar, chocolate cake, a French cooking magazine, recipes, and more!
Debbie of Puanani - Hawaii >>pkg arrived
>> Debbie's package from Lori & Evan arrived with dried beancurd sticks and a recipe that makes use of them, almond crunch, and even some yarn!
Reid of 'Ono Kine Grindz - Hawaii >>pkg in the mail
Lauren - Indiana >>pkg arrived
>> Lauren's package from Lisa arrived with a variety of indulgent sweets and treats selected by Lisa to help relieve the stress of the holiday season: candy, tea, biscotti, dried fruit, energy bars, and homemade granola. Ahhh....
Sarah of Cooking with The Headhunter - Indiana >>pkg arrived
>> Sarah's package from Tracey arrived with much anticipated Swedish goodies - homemade pepparkakor, Swedish candies, the cutest marzipan pig ever, all the makings for Glogg, and a Christmas magazine.
Heather of Eating for One - Kansas >>pkg arrived
>> Heather's package from Deborah arrived with homemade oatmeal cookies, candy, Vegemite, candy, double Deveon cream, scone mix, golden syrup, and more!
Ann - Kansas
>> Ann's package from Mare arrived - hope to hear more later!
Jennifer of Weekly Dish - Louisiana >>pkg arrived
>> Jennifer's package from Heather arrived with homemade Monster Cookies, sunflower dishtowels, an orange-scented candle, and yummy homemade pumpkin bread!
Raquel of Raquel's Box of Chocolate - Massachusetts >>pkg arrived
>> Raquels' package from Ed arrived with all sorts of Australian goodies: Anzac biscuits, Red Hill golden ale, Murray salt, and copies of the magazine he publishes.
Molly of my madeleine - Massachusetts >>pkg arrived
>> Molly's package from Rainey arrived and she LOVES it! It included delicious cheeses, babka, pumpkin apple bread, chocolates and other amazing things.
Jan - Massachusetts >>pkg arrived
>> Jan's package from Jessica arrived - details soon!
Cathy of my little kitchen - Maryland >>pkg arrived
>> My package from Ann arrived with lots of wonderful goodies - homemade cranberry sauce, several varieties of tea, candy, chestnuts, and the recipe for a fantastic sounding pumpkin bread pudding with caramel sauce.
Mia of Knit & Play with Fire - Maryland >>pkg arrived
>> Mia's package from Jess arrived with some Christmas pudding, tea, and chocolate. And, since they're both knitters, a skein of Colinette's Enigma yarn.
Kari The Power of Cheese - Maryland >>pkg in the mail
>> Kari's package from Jason arrived and I suspect it was the most unusual package in BBM3 - Jason filled a shipping tube with homemade oatmeal cookies and other treats, but the package was designed to resemble a Christmas cracker, complete with strings to pull on either end!
Randi of Culinary Adventures - Michigan >>pkg arrived
>> Randi's package from Stephanie arrived with rice crispie treats, apple pepper jelly, and some yummy chocolate sauce.
Heidi of Step Into My Thimble - Michigan >>pkg arrived
>> Heidi's package from Beth arrived with some fun foods associated with family traditions: chocolate easter eggs, spray cheese, Life Savers, and best of all, homemade Coconut Rum Diamonds!
Lisa Knitted and Purled - Minnesota >>pkg arrived
>> Lisa's package from Jan arrived after one false start (that leaking sourdough starter must have sent the post office into a tizzy!), but it was worth the wait. Filled with home cardamom cookies, spiced nuts, paradise jelly and much more!
Alanna of A Veggie Venture - Missouri >>pkg arrived
Beth - Missouri >>pkg arrived
>> Beth's package from Hannah arrived and included some yummy chocolate meringue cookies, a recipe for her grandmother's squash, and a really cute snowman cookie!
Jennifer of BeastlySum - Missouri >>pkg arrived
Kat - New Hampshire >>pkg arrived
>> Kat's package from Carol arrived with sticky rice cake and childhood memories of the Lunar New Year in Taiwan.
Amy of - New Jersey >>pkg arrived
>> Amy's package from Helen arrived with yummy ginger snaps, minced meat pies, and a recipe and rice to make baked rice pudding.
Debra of Here and There - New Jersey >>pkg arrived
>> Debra's package from Ana arrived - she says it was a huge box of veggie friendly and non-sugary stuff and well worth the wait!
Andrea of Tenacious Flog - New Mexico >>pkg in the mail
>> Andrea's package from Leslie arrived with a huge package of addictive "kitchen sink" cookies (plus the recipe), as well as a photo of Leslie's kitchen, a letter about her holiday traditions and a recipe for Holiday Yams, and a package of Alaskan hot cocoa mix.
Nupur of One Hot Stove - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Nupur's package from Sima arrived with a wonderful home baked buttermilk pound cake (and the recipe!) and foods reflecting both her Korean and Persian family traditions.
Heather of What She's Eating - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Heather's package from Mariko arrived - hope to hear more soon!
Lisa - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Lisa's package from Kat arrived and she loves it! Fresh herbs from Kat's garden, homemade cookies, and more...
Andrea of Sugar Substitute - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Andrea's package from Cheryl arrived with delicious homemade chocolate chunk cookies and the best caramel corn ever. Cheryl also included a variety of Singaporean treats including: dried cuttlefish shreds, fish strips, chocolate covered strawberry gummies, hawthorne flakes, Hall's Tangerine Soda candy, and laksa paste.
Jessica of Su Good Eats - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Jessica's package from Jennifer arrived with all sorts of homemade treats: her grandmother's Five-Flavor Pound Cake, Lemon Pound Cake, and Cranberry Biscotti. But wait, there's more! Homemade Strawberry Jam, and homemade Hot Pepper Jam - just amazing!
Stephanie of moschop knitting haven - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Stephanie's package from Jenn arrived with homemade pepper jelly, family recipes, fresh roasted coffee and much more!
Julie of A Finger in Every Pie - New York >>pkg arrived
>> Julie's package from Kriszti arrived with paprika in almost every form - pickled, powdered, and paste. There was also a salami, some Hungarian chocolate, and recipes.
Jennifer of Fallen Souffle - North Carolina >>pkg arrived
>> Jennifer's package from me arrived with date nut bread, cookies, US Senate bean soup, and a few more goodies.
Nico of NICO GALOPPO - North Carolina >>pkg arrived
>> Nico's package from Kim arrived with Albanian specialties, along with some Italian chocolates, and even Dutch ‘drop’ (black licorice candy). There was also an Albanian (but English-written) newspaper and two little cooking books about Albanian food.
Alice of My Adventures in the Breadbox - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Alice's package from Nic arrived with yummy baked goods and a bread book!
Holly of Craving Cleveland - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Holly's package from Twink arrived with a letter from Twink explaining how she was just about to celebrate Hari Raya and a number of foods representative of multi-cultural Malaysia.
Keri - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Keri's package from Stella arrived with some well-timed and much needed chocolate!
Helen - Ohio >>pkg arrived
>> Helen's package from Alanna arrived with gorgeous shortbread cookies and lots of cookie recipes.
Bev of Days of Yarn & Roses - Oklahoma >>pkg arrived
>> Bev's package from Lisa arrived with a lovely handknit dishcloth, muffins and cookies.
Mariko of super eggplant - Oregon >>pkg arrived
>> Mariko's package from Randi arrived filled with Canadian goodies such as Tim Horton's hot chocolate, chocolate bars and handmade dishcloths.
Michelle of the accidental scientist - Oregon >>pkg arrived
>> Michelle's package from Clare arrived with homemade cookies, Tim Tams, Cadbury chocolates, salt flakes, wasabi noodle snacks, Indian seasoning mixes, and decorative sprinkles for holiday baking.
Michelle - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Michelle's package from Carrie arrived - details to follow!
Stella of StellaBites - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Stella's package from Heidi arrived with homemade cookies, grape juice, soup, and jam - WOW!
Christiane of 24 Knits - Pennsylvania
Lindy of Toast - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Lindy's package from Winnie arrived with regional treats from Italy - luscious chocolates, rich hazelnut spread, Bottarga di Orbetello, and a family recipe for potstickers.
Ruth - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Ruth's package from Kitty arrived with some salad dressing, local honey and marmalade, BBQ sauce, chocolate, and family recipes.
Stephanie of - Pennsylvania >>pkg arrived
>> Stephanie's package from Kai finally arrived after a difficult journey - it was misdirected to her neighbor's house (who was out of town on vacation), then Stephanie moved to another state before her neighbor returned from vacation, finally Stephanie met up with her old neighbor on a return visit in March and received the package. Unfortunately, it was too late to enjoy most of the contents, but the thought and effort behind it was appreciated nonetheless!
Stephanie of Dispensing Happiness - Tennessee >>pkg arrived
>> Stephanie's package from Robin arrived and stirred up memories of California for Stephanie. It included some Chinese Fried Walnuts along with the recipe and a cute little pumpkin box.
Dixie of Dixie's Dragon - Tennessee >>pkg arrived
>> Dixie's package from Debbie arrived - yay! It included a Rendang sauce spice package, two peanut sauce spice packages, prawn crackers, agar agar, a Nestle Milo bar, and a slew of recipe cards.
Susan of Kawaii K-nitting - Tennessee >>pkg arrived
>> Susan's package from Debbie arrived with a Hawaiian dessert cookbook, guava jelly, crushed macadamia nuts, coffee, and a Hawaiian Christmas CD!
Michelle of The Baker's Rack - Texas >>pkg arrived
Diane of Bitchin' in the Kitchen - Texas >>pkg arrived
>> Diane's package from Stephanie arrived with almond pudding mix, ginger candies, chocolate that came with reproductions of art from Stephanie's local art museum, and Diane's new favorite - roasted pumpkin seed oil.
Amy of Not As Good As Pork Cracklins - Texas >>pkg arrived
>> Amy's package from Katherine arrived with homemade onion relish, homemade fudge, and a variety of spices.
Shelley of s'kat and the food - Virginia >>pkg in the mail
>> Shelley's package from Jess arrived with homemade treats reminiscent of home - rice crispy squares and M&M cookies - as well as some family recipes.
Grace of Virginia Food Lovers - Virginia >>pkg arrived
>> Grace's package from Karen arrived with delicious tropical fruit candies and Philipino sauces. Grace is especially excited about the crab fat that Kai sent and plans to make pansit palabok with it.
Sandra - Washington >>pkg arrived
Gaile of FidgetyBudgie - Washington >>pkg in the mail
>> Gaile's package from Diane arrived - a "lovely box of happiness" according to Gaile, with homemade strawberry jam, cheese wafers, spicy pecans... mmm!
Stephanie of da*xiang - Washington >>pkg arrived
>> Stef's package from Holly arrived with delicious homemade Kolache cookies and all sorts of cookie-making supplies - cookie cutters, sprinkles, and a sugar cookie recipe.
Shauna of Gluten-free Girl - Washington >>pkg in the mail
>> Shauna's package from Susan arrived - should hear more soon!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 19th

Somehow in making the switch from haphazard, checking-when-I-think-of-it blog reading to using Bloglines, Julie's A Finger in Every Pie escaped my notice for a while. But no more, it is on my short list of blogs to check everyday. This is a blog worth reading and savoring.

I love that she has lots of recipes. I love that she has a category** called "Kitchen Disasters". I love her writing. And I love her Mulligatawny Soup.

I'm in the mood for soup these days. Actually, I'm always in the mood for soup. It's a meal in a bowl - simple and comforting. I had never tasted Mulligitawny soup before, but had been curious to try it ever since I first heard of it on the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld. For some reason I'd never sought out a recipe for it, but when I was getting caught up with Julie's blog and came across her recipe, I knew I had to try it.

I'm a little slow when it comes to chopping and measuring a long list of ingredients - I blame it on my small kitchen, but I know it's me. This recipe does have a long list, but it's a lot of spices and not too terribly much chopping. The only ingredient you might have trouble finding is tamarind paste. If you've got an Indian grocery nearby, you'll find it there. If not, you could try substituting some lemon or lime juice.

I prepared the soup with chicken stock but no chicken. It also has red lentils, leeks, onions, potatoes, carrots, garlic... Like I said, it's a long list! But the soup is amazing. It's one of those recipes where you puree part of it to create a thick creamy soup with chunks of vegetables. With all those spices, coconut milk, and tamarind paste, there all kinds of flavors to make it even more interesting. It makes a really big batch too - I ate it all week last week (yeah, it really was that good!) and still had some for the freezer.

So get on over to Julie's and print out that recipe. You're going to love this soup.

Zarah is back on-line, but unfortunately her stove is temporarily out of commission (don't worry, the stove is fine - just not hooked up at the moment). She does have a Dining with the Bloggers post planned, but it might be delayed slightly. I'm sure it will be worth waiting for!

**Speaking of categories... if you use Blogger, PLEASE go vote for them to add categories.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Dutch Chocolate Bars

Page 82 in the old book / page 128 in the new book

A crunchy oatmeal and pecan cookie base topped with a brownie-like layer. I have to admit - these look and sound good. But there was a clear consensus this week among the cookie panelists and myself, and that was that these cookies were only so-so. The contrast in textures just didn't work.

They were easy enough to make, though. Neither the oatmeal base nor the brownie topping require the use of a mixer, though I chose to use the mixer to prepare the base. The oatmeal mixture is pressed into the pan, baked briefly, and then topped with the chocolate mixture and returned to the oven. I lined the pan with parchment so I would be able to easily lift the whole thing out of the pan after baking.

Chocolate, oatmeal, pecans, easy to make, and nice to look at. So much potential... and such a letdown.

Suzanne: "If I wasn't one of Cathy's tasters, I would have taken the bottom oatmeal base off, thrown it away, and devoured the rest of the brownie. My palate (Phil's favorite word) didn't care for the texture of the oatmeal with the brownie. Rating - 3.0"

Denny: "Good. Rating - 3.0"

Laura: "I like the Brownie top (yummy!) and I like the Oatmeal Pecan bottom, but not so much as a combined dessert. Rating - 3.0"

Phil: "More like two cookies – oatmeal & pecan transplanted onto a classic brownie. Found myself liking them better separately than in combination. Rating - 3.3"

Overall rating by the panel - 3.1

Next week - Viennese Chocolate-Walnut Bars

Nutrition Facts

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Watermelon Radish

I confess I bought these mostly for the photo op. I'm not especially fond of the peppery bite of radishes when eaten raw, but I've never tried them cooked, and don't mind them sliced very thinly in a salad. These were so pretty, I couldn't resist.

These radishes are an heirloom variety of the daikon radish. They're also known as Beauty Heart. I ate one of those little wedges you see above and found it reasonably peppery in the middle and downright hot on the outside. I haven't tried the smaller one yet, but supposedly the intensity of this type of radish lessens as it matures, so that little one may be especially fiery.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 12th

I just "discovered" this great food blog, but judging from the comments on their posts, I think I'm the only one that didn't know about it. The blog is Belly-Timber, a joint effort of Mrs. D and Chopper Dave - husband and wife, chef and photographer, and food bloggers extraordinaire. Between the two of them they've created a food blog with a sense of humor, great food, and beautiful photos.

The recipe that caught my eye was for Irish Soda Bread. As usual, I was looking for something that wasn't too fussy. You can't beat Irish Soda Bread for simplicity and this recipe delivers a great tasting loaf of bread with very little effort. Although Mrs. D's approach to mixing the dough looked like fun, I decided to mix all the ingredients except the extra 3/4 cup of flour in a bowl. I dumped this wet dough onto the extra 3/4 cup of flour and worked that in with my hands. This takes all of about 5 minutes. Mrs. D used whole wheat bread flour, which I couldn't find. I used regular flour this time, but I might try regular whole wheat flour plus some vital wheat gluten next time.

I had one little problem with the recipe - I didn't read the temperature correctly. I thought it said 550. I had a gut feeling that the temperature wasn't right, but I started out at 550 anyway. The smoke detector went off after 15 minutes at which time I checked the bread and found it was burned on the bottom, very dark on top, and obviously not yet cooked through (though it had risen nicely!). I turned the temperature down to about 400, stuck another cookie sheet under the first and covered the top of the bread with foil. That evening I emailed Mrs. D and sure enough - the correct temperature is actually 350. (The recipe appears on their blog as a photograph of a page in a cookbook, and the 3 looks nearly identical to the 5.)

What is truly amazing is that despite the abuse heaped on it, the bread was fantastic! I did have to trim off the bottom crust, but the interior was still moist and absolutely delicious. I've eaten Irish Soda Bread before, but not made it, and I remember it as being too dry. Not so with this loaf. I would have been pleased with this bread even if it had been a more complicated recipe, but for such an easy recipe to turn out so well is really gratifying.

Zarah still has no internet hookup at home, but sounds like she is thrilled with the new apartment. She plans to post from school, so stop by to see what she's been cooking in her new kitchen!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Chocolate Mint Sticks

Page 80 in the old book / page 126 in the new book

I thought these were fantastic, but not everyone agreed with me. If there's one thing I've learned in my cookie project thus far, it's that people may be open to trying all kinds of new cookies, but don't mess with their brownies! More than any other cookie, people seem to have strong opinions on what is and is not acceptable in a brownie. This week's cookie is a basic brownie recipe topped with a thin peppermint icing and a bitter chocolate glaze, a combination that proved to be surprisingly controversial.

The base for this cookie was nearly identical to the All-American Brownie from a few weeks ago. The differences in the recipe were in technique rather than ingredients, and I assume the objective was to obtain a firmer and/or cakier brownie. The eggs are beaten, the dough is spread more thinly in a slightly larger pan, and the brownies are baked a few minutes longer. The brownies still come out moist and fudgy, just not to the same degree as the others.

This cookie has a great base, but what really makes it special are the toppings - a very thin layer of mint icing and then a thin layer of bitter chocolate glaze. The bitter chocolate glaze is simply melted unsweetened chocolate and butter mixed together. I was surprised that an unsweetened icing was used, but it works. Actually, it's brilliant. The two toppings create a perfect balance of sweetness. The use of very thin layers of both toppings is perfect and shows admirable restraint. This is a recipe I will certainly make again and again.

I thought chocolate and mint was a universally liked flavor pairing, but turns out I was wrong...

Suzanne: "I'm really not fond of chocolate and mint together. I also prefer a brownie without icing. I tasted the icing and mint flavor over the brownie. Since it was chocolate I'm rating this as a 3.5. Rating - 3.5"

Terri: "These are rich brownies with the perfect icing combination - bitter chocolate glaze with peppermint. The walnuts add just the right amount of "crunchiness". One doesn't need more than 2 at a time! Although it's hard to stop eating this great brownie. My favorite in this book. Rating - 5.0"

Laura: "I like mint, I like chocolate, I like walnuts. However, I don't really care for mint and frosting in my brownies. Tasty Mint Chocolate Sticks, but not my thing. Rating - 3.0"

Phil: "Poorly named, but otherwise a delightful and attractive surprise. While this palate is not usually stirred by mint, pleasantly surprised to discover what a nudge of mint can do to enliven the taste buds to another delectable brownie. Rating - 4.7"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.1

Next week - Dutch Chocolate Bars

Nutrition Facts

Friday, October 07, 2005

Niki's Jam & Memories of Breakfast in Vermont

A few weeks back I received a tasty little package from Niki at Esurientes - The Comfort Zone: candy (yay - I finally got a taste of Violet Crumble!), crackers, the cutest little platypus pin, a bookmark featuring a picture of Wattle (Australia's national flower), and Niki's own homemade jam. It was so sweet of her to send me all these goodies, but I was especially touched that she had included a jar of her own jam. She made it last January (summer for her, the depths of winter for me!) with plums and nectarines from her grandmother's trees. This was her first time making jam and I'd say it was a huge success! When I first tasted the jam I had a very pleasant surprise - I had expected sweet and tangy, but Niki's jam is also warmly spiced. It has the most fantastic flavor, not to mention wonderful chunks of fruit... just heaven!

I thought this special jam deserved something homebaked for its debut and last weekend I finally got around to doing some baking. I made some muffins, which are rather plainly named, Make Ahead Muffins. This is a recipe that my Mom got ages ago from a friend in our old neighborhood. I was reminded of these a couple of months ago when I spent a weekend in Vermont with Bob and Chuck. They had some muffin batter in the freezer that a friend had brought the weekend before. We baked off the rest of it for breakfast Saturday morning. When I got back I asked my Mom for her recipe, which I suspect is very similar to the one Bob and Chuck's friend had used.

I just love these muffins - they're very moist and slightly sweet. They have a flavor that is hard for me to describe, but one that is apparently etched in my memory. They are great for breakfast and are also wonderful alongside some soup for dinner. They were also the perfect foil for Niki's jam since they have a subdued flavor and aren't overly sweet. So here's the recipe for the muffins, maybe Niki will share her recipe for the jam... hint, hint!

I tweaked my Mom's recipe slightly. The original calls for All-Bran cereal, but on examining the package in the store I discovered All-Bran contains not just bran, but high fructose corn syrup, among other things. I replaced the All-Bran cereal with plain old unprocessed bran and a little extra sugar. I also replaced the shortening with oil, which I figure is healthier, easier to use, and cheaper (cheaper because I have taken to buying the kind of shortening that is not hydrogenated). This makes a huge bowl of muffin batter which will keep in the refrigerator for a while or which you can freeze. The recipe claims the batter will keep in the fridge for three weeks.

Make Ahead Muffins

2 cups oatmeal (I used quick oats)
1 3/4 cups unprocessed bran
2 cups crushed shredded wheat biscuits
2 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
4 cups (1 quart) buttermilk
5 cups flour
5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Combine the cereals in a large bowl and then pour the boiling water over the cereal. Set aside. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a mixer with a large bowl (I think mine is 5 qt, and it was just big enough), beat the eggs slightly then add the oil and sugar and beat just to mix. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, then add the cereal mixture. Beat briefly to break up and distribute the cereal. Bake muffins at 375F for 15 to 20 minutes. Yield: 4 dozen muffins

Here's a photo of our breakfast that Saturday morning. I love the lighting in the picture - we had breakfast on the porch and you can tell it was quite early in the morning. It was the start to a really wonderful weekend... wish I was there now!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Blogging by Mail 3 - Home for the Holidays

I love that picture. It’s reminiscent of Norman Rockwell’s Freedom from Want with the billowy white curtains, the Thanksgiving turkey, and everyone gathered around the table, but it has the distinctive stamp of my family… my grandfather pleased as punch with his newest grandson, my brother clowning for the camera, my other brother giving him a look, the rest of us intently focused on the camera and on smiling (not too much, not too little, and don’t blink!), and my father, behind the camera, archiving this wondrous moment forever. But enough about me...

I am pleased as punch to be hosting Blogging by Mail 3, a care package swap for food bloggers and their readers first conceived of and hosted by Nic. What makes this event different from other food blogging events and so wonderful is the opportunity to learn a little bit about a fellow food blogger or food blog reader… where they’re from, what their handwriting looks like, what kind of cookies they like… you get the idea. With the hopes of building on that and with the theme “Home for the Holidays”, I propose that this time around your package include some or all of the following:

  • The food section from your local paper

  • A grocery store flyer from a store where you shop

  • A photo of your kitchen

  • A favorite holiday recipe

  • A food item made from a family recipe (and the recipe!)

  • A handwritten note from you explaining a bit about the package contents, telling about an important holiday for your family and your traditions for that holiday, and telling about your plans for the upcoming holiday season.

As always, Blogging by Mail is an international event and you don’t have to have a food blog to participate. Here’s how it works…

  • Send me an email at mylittlekitchen at gmail dot com with the subject BBM3 no later than 10/23/2005

  • Include your name, address, blog name and URL (if you have one), and any allergies or dislikes

  • If you’d prefer to swap with someone in your own country to save on shipping costs, let me know and I’ll try my best to accommodate you

  • I will send you the name and address of the person you will be sending a package to by 10/31/2005

  • You should ship your package no later than 11/15/2005

  • When you get your package, either post to your blog and send me the permalink or send me an email (with a photo if you can!) and I’ll include the information in the round-up.

  • The round-up will be done a little differently this time. I’ve already created the post where the round-up will appear. It’s right here. As people sign up I will add them to the list of participants and as packages arrive and people post to their blogs or email me, I’ll update the round-up.

I think that's it. If you think of something I've missed or have any questions let me know!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Dining with the Bloggers - October 5th

I have a feeling I'll be preaching to the choir when I tell you all that you really must spend some time reading Nic's blog, Bakingsheet. I expect that anyone that hangs around here is already very familiar with Nic's fantastic blog. I certainly don't keep up with all the food blogs (who could?), so I could be wrong, but I think Nic is one of the most prolific food bloggers out there. She usually posts five or six times a week. Her posts are generally succinct, loaded with information, and almost always capped off with a recipe. Just yesterday she had a wonderful essay on the origin of the word pumpernickel and, of course, a recipe. Best of all, it is obvious that Nic has amassed considerable expertise on the subject of baking and that she has a knack for sharing her knowledge with others.

Given all that, it seems a shame that the recipe I've chosen to highlight this week is not one of Nic's wonderful bread, cookie, muffin, or cake recipes. I just couldn't fit that in this week - sorry! But this is a wonderful recipe nonetheless. It is Pumpkin Spice Mocha, with a little bonus recipe for making your own pumpkin pie spice. It's easy to make, you probably have all the necessary ingredients on hand, and it tastes great! You'll see my picture below, but Nic has a much nicer photo in her post. I used skim milk and no pretty cinnamon stick garnish, so mine doesn't have quite the visual appeal of Nic's. I really liked it though. And after trying it a second time with a little added cream, I've decided I actually prefer it with skim milk (but that may be just me, skim milk is all I drink these days).

So go fix yourself a cup, get comfy in front of the computer, and take a little time to enjoy all that Bakingsheet has to offer!

I haven't heard a peep from Zarah since last week and the big move to the new apartment (and kitchen), so I'm not even sure if she has internet access yet. But if it's humanly possible for her to post, I'm sure she won't miss an opportunity to dine with the bloggers!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Blogging by Mail - Special Delivery from Nevada!

My Blogging by Mail package arrived Monday! Blogging by Mail, in case you're not familiar with it, was conceived of by Nic at Bakingsheet and hosted this time around by Samantha of The Samantha Files. It's a swap where participants exchange care packages filled with goodies such as home baked treats, candy, books, kitchen gadgets, etc.

My package came to me courtesy of Becky of Two Foot Kitchen. I'm not sure how Becky picked the name for her blog, but I can't help but wonder if our kitchens are similarly sized! Becky loves to try new recipes and her blog is a record of her favorite finds.

Included in my package were some savory almond crackers which I believe were made by Becky (they're so perfectly round and evenly cut that it's hard to tell!), a dark chocolate candy bar with dried cranberries and almonds, Pansy and Lemon Jelly, and a Moroccan spice blend called ras el hanout. Becky recommends that the jelly be eaten with yogurt cheese and I would guess that the jelly and cheese would be delicious atop the almond crackers. The spice blend is described as "a spicy rub with rose petals and a distinctly aromatic scent of lavender, cinnamon and cloves". I can't wait to try it on some grilled chicken. And for dessert? Why that scrumptious candy bar of course!

Thanks so much Becky for a lovely Blogging by Mail package! I am certain I will enjoy every bit of it.

By the way, I will be hosting Blogging by Mail 3, so be sure to stop back by here Thursday for the official announcement!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Mondays with Maida - Fudge Brownies

Page 78 in the old book / page 125 in the new book

While there are still a number of chocolate bar cookies ahead, strictly speaking, this is the last of the brownies. This recipe is very similar to the All-American Brownies, but with double the chocolate, an added dose of sugar, and one more egg. Walnuts are listed as an optional ingredient and Maida notes that the brownies are equally good with or without the nuts. With my office clearly divided on the preferred nut in brownies, I decided to leave them out. Unlike the All-American Brownies, these brownies are mixed in a mixer.

I have been lining the pan with either parchment or foil, even when the recipe only recommended buttering the pan. This guarantees that the cake will come easily out of the pan. This recipe recommended dusting the buttered pan with breadcrumbs, so I decided to try it without the parchment. I held my breath as I pried the finished cake from the pan. It resisted a little, but in the end it came out of the pan cleanly. Next time I think I'll just stick with the parchment - less heartburn.

I thought these brownies were very good, but not significantly better than the All-American Brownies. Since they had to be chilled prior to cutting, I ate my brownie cold. I think the fudginess was probably accentuated by chilling, so my sample was especially moist and chewy with a crumbly, crunchy top. Yum! By the way, if you haven't already, have a look at Niki's take on this recipe - talk about moist and fudgy!

Leaving out the nuts worked for some, but not all...

Suzanne: "When Cathy told me these brownies didn't have nuts, I thought, 'oh no', since I like brownies with nuts. Actually, the brownies were better without nuts since the texture was chewier. I enjoyed the fudge brownies. Rating - 4.5"

Denny: "I'd give them a 3.5, but also would rename them to Norman Rockwell' Brownies. Rating - 3.5"

Laura: "Moist, chocolate and fudgy: what more can you ask for in a Brownie? Rating - 5.0"

Phil: "Starts with a thin cake like layer with increasingly moist and richer chocolate strata. If you don't like nuts this may the best choice so far. But we samplers are here to serve and willing to continue to consume & rate all comers : ) Rating - 4.7"

Overall rating by the panel - 4.4

Next week - Chocolate Mint Sticks

Nutrition Facts

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Aha! (and a query)

While organizing a cabinet today I found I had two bottles of mirin. One open (on the left above), and presumably older, and a second unopened (on the right). The newer one has a paler color, but you'd think they'd be the same - right?

Wrong. Which begs the question, is this rice wine or not?

I have another (unrelated) question... are rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar the same thing?