As fluffy as snow!

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So pink. I suppose they say it takes a real man to wear pink…

Well travelers, it’s been a long time. As it turns out, planning a wedding, traveling to your home town to plan said wedding, moving to a new apartment , cooking in your beautiful new kitchen, and working  as always is NOT conducive to food history blogging. But our venue is secured, my dress is picked:)  and our registry of amazing kitchen things is underway. And next week we may even finally get our new couch delivered!

We just celebrated Valentine’s Day, which has always been one of my favorite baking holidays as it is always an excuse for making chocolate/fruit desserts. Despite my fiancé’s many positive attributes, he has one big flaw…he hates rich, decadent desserts (one of my primary food groups of course), and prefers light desserts such as sponge and angel food cakes.

Angel food cake is a relative newcomer to the confectionary world, likely invented in America in the mid 19th century. One of the earliest recipes was written by a former slave, Abby Fisher, who included a recipe for “silver cake” in her book, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Soups, Pickles, Preserves, Etc.  Fannie Farmer was the first to print the name “angel food cake” in her version of the Boston-Cooking School Cook Book in 1896. Some historians say the name came about because the light, heavenly texture. This is of course in contrast to angel food’s counterpart, devil’s food cake.

One of the main reasons why angel food cake took so long to develop was the necessity of whipped egged whites in the batter. Prior to the invention of hand and stand mixers, cooks would have needed to whisk the egg whites by hand—an incredibly labor-intensive task.  It is very likely that the first angel food cakes were made by slaves for this very reason. With the improvement of kitchen tools and equipment during and after the Industrial Revolution, housewives and servants could make more luxurious cakes.

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Tube pans allow heat from the oven to spread evenly, creating a light and air-like texture.

Angel food cakes are traditionally bakes in tube pans, with have a whole in the center to allow for even heat circulation. Historically, many of specialty cake molds in America were produced by the Pennsylvania Dutch, and therefore some historians argue that the cake must have originated in Pennsylvania.

Angel food cakes became increasingly popular in the mid-20th century, when companies like Betty Crocker and Pillsbury began producing angel food cake mixes.  With artificial stabilizers and powdered egg whites already inside the box, the home cook needed not even bother with the hassle of whipping egg whites. Cooks aiming to impress might hollow out the cake and fill it with a fruit compote, mousse, or instant gelatin mixture.

Today, angel food cake is widely popular as a low-fat  dessert available for as little as $3 per cake at the local grocery stores. It is sometimes used as a base for fruit sauce or ice cream, or as a dipper in chocolate fondue.  While the grocery store version is perfectly fine for the above uses, it is no replacement for a light and airy homemade cake.

For further reading:

http://www.cakespy.com/blog/2012/2/29/heaven-sent-a-history-of-angel-food-cake.html

https://books.google.com/books?id=DOJMAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA264&lpg=PA264&dq=andrew+smith+angel+food+cake&source=bl&ots=eIqmOww4KO&sig=njAma-8kZqoj6svpydUhRQ8QfZs&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CHTdVPP4JrPisATDi4HgCA&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=andrew%20smith%20angel%20food%20cake&f=false

https://archive.org/stream/whatmrsfisherkno00fishrich/whatmrsfisherkno00fishrich_djvu.txt

 

Stanton’s Birthday Strawberry Angel Food Cake

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Unfortunately, I baked the cake on a particularly rainy, humid day and it decided to sink in a bit.

Stanton requested a strawberry angel food cake for his birthday last May. The bright pink color is an added bonus perfect for Valentine’s Day and Cherry Blossom Festival. I also make a key lime version for St. Patrick’s Day.

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups superfine sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cake flour

12 eggs (room temperature, they’ll separate better)

1/3 cup warm water

1 teaspoon raspberry or vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar

3-4 drops red food coloring

1 1/2 tablespoons powdered dehydrated strawberry (I buy dehydrated strawberries at Trader Joe’s and smash in a plastic bag. Raspberries work too!)

Directions:

    • Sift together cake flour, salt, and 1 cup sugar.
    • Separate eggs. We only need the whites for this recipe, so save the yolks for French toast, ice cream, or omelets! Follow these directions to freeze yolks for future use.
    • Combine egg whites, water, extract, and cream of tartar in mixer. Slowly add remaining sugar. Beat at medium speed until peaks form.
    • Use a spatula to carefully fold dry ingredients into egg white mixture. Don’t over mix or eggs will deflate!
    • Carefully pour batter into an ungreased tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
    • Now comes the scary part. It’s going to sound crazy, but trust me on this. Turn your cake upside down and allow the tube of pan to rest over a bottle of soda. Cool completely.
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I understand the fear of tipping a cake you just pulled from the oven upside-down over a bottle. But as long as you did not grease the pan, that cake isn’t gong anywhere.

  • Once cool, gently run knife around edges of pan. If your pan does not have a removable bottom, very gently lift cake out of pan. I’ll sometimes use a thin spatula.
  • Serve with whipped cream, ice cream and/or berries!
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Some enjoy whipped cream.

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I prefer berries.

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Cream colored ponies and crisp apple strudels

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Strudel!

Looking for an alternative to apple pie this holiday season? My fiancé and I recently went apple-picking in Charlottesville—in fact we picked about 25 pounds of granny smiths and fujis. We made the obligatory apple crisp and caramel apples, but I wanted to try something new to use more up.

While apple strudel, or “apfelstrudel” as it is called in German, has been around for several hundred years, this treat was a first for me! According to my Grandma Betty, her mother made strudel, and grandma remembers the process involved in stretching the dough paper thin across the family’s table.

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Yum

Strudel became especially popular Strudel is actually related to baklava, a delicacy that spread through the Ottoman Empire. The Turks brought baklava to Austria in around 1453 C.E., inspiring Austrians to make their own variation with chopped apples and nuts. Over the next several centuries, many variations of strudel were developed, including cherry, berry, and poppyseed varieties.

Did you know “strudel” actually means “whirlpool” in German (because it is rolled over so many times)?

For further reading

http://uchicagopalate.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/apfelstrudel-or-the-apple-whirlpool/
http://www.germanfoodguide.com/strudel.cfm

Ingredients

Dough
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons canola oil
13 tablespoons lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Filling 1
5 cups chopped apples (I leave peels on so that I can pretend I’m being healthy)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup raisins
4 tablespoons rum

Filling 2
1 cup bread crumbs
1 stick melted butter

Directions:
1) Make the dough: Combine ingredients. Knead the dough on a floured surface with floured hands until smooth, about 5-10 minutes. Allow to rest in a warm place for at least 2 hours.

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Me and the dough, so cute!

2) Prepare apple filling: Soak raisins in rum for 20 minutes. You may drain and dispose of the rum after this, or you can save it to add to a nice cup of hot tea or coffee. Combine apples, spices, sugar, and raisins in a large bowl and set aside.

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Lot’s of apples!

3) Prepare bread crumbs: Combine with melted butter and set aside. Pretty easy one.

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Filling 2

4) Stretch the dough: Place rested dough on a large table with a tablecloth. Start by rolling the dough as thin as you can with a rolling pin.

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Practice your stretches!

Once the dough really starts the get thin, you may use the back of your hands and fingertips to stretch the dough even thinner. You need to do this until you can read a newspaper through the dough, so get comfy. And if the dough tears, that’s ok, you can pinch the dough back together later.

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Time to fold the strudel.

5) Fill the strudel: Spread melted butter over dough surface. Spread bread crumb filling across the entire dough, excluding the edges. Line the apple filling along one of the narrow edges, occupying no more than 1/6 of the entire dough surface.

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He’s such a good baking assistant.

6) The fun part:Time to roll up the strudel! Gently fold the edge closest to the apple filling over the apples. Pick up the two corners of the tablecloth closest to the apple filling and gently lift. The table cloth will do the rolling work for you! Just don’t let the strudel roll all the way off the other side of the table!

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Seriously so much fun! But really, don’t roll it off the table!

7) Very gently pick up the strudel (it will be heavy) and lift it onto a greased pan or cookie sheet. If you’d like, melt another 1/4 stick butter and brush over the strudel prior to baking.

8) Bake the strudel at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes.

9) Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Enjoy on its own or with whipped cream or ice cream!

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Holy Holishkes!

The outer leaves are always the darkest. So I thought it would be fun to line them up in order.

Sounds like something that Robin would say to Batman, like “Holy holishkes, Batman! It’s the Joker!”

Holishkes, or stuffed cabbage leaves (galuptzi in Polish), are often eaten on the Jewish harvest festival of Sukkot or Simchat Torah (literally “Celebration of the Torah). On Sukkot, Jews build small huts reminiscent of the temporary dwellings they used during their 40 years wandering the desert. Traditional foods for the holiday include fruit, nuts, vegetables, and other seasonal dishes.

One Jewish tradition also holds that two stuffed cabbages side by side resemble a Torah scroll, making them even more special for today since tonight marks the start of Simchat Torah. Jews around the world will complete the final passages of the Torah and start all over again at the beginning. We also dance with the Torah and one another. In fact, some old-timers believe that one’s dance partner on Simchat Torah is critical, as you may meet your future spouse!  Anyway, I digress.

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Not sure I see the Torah, but it sounds nice!

Cabbage, the primary ingredient in holishkes, is one of the world’s oldest vegetables, having been consumed and cultivated for thousands of years across multiple continents. The earliest cabbages were loose bunches of leaves, similar to kale or romaine lettuce, and eventually parented over 500 varieties. Among these cabbage assortments are broccoli and cauliflower. The smooth, light green cabbage we see at the grocery store today originated in Germany during the mid-12th century.

Ashkenazi Jews survived on cabbage as their primary vegetable until the arrival of potatoes in the early 18th century. Stuffing the leaves with a ground-meat mixture was an easy way to stretch a small piece of meat, which was quite expensive back then. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe and the Middle East brought their families’ stuffed cabbage recipes with them to America. Sometimes they altered their family recipes by adding tomato paste or sweet-and-sour sauce, products easily available in the new country.

For further reading:

http://jewishfoodexperience.com/sukkot-official-foodie-holiday/

http://onceuponaparadigm.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/stuffed-cabbage-rolls-comfort-food-history-and-recipes/

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2004-01-14/entertainment/0401140005_1_cabbage-rolls-cook-leaves

Marks, Gil. Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World. New Jersey: Wiley Publishing, Inc, 2005.

Vegetarian Holishkes

Since stuffed cabbage recipes have been cooked by Jews and non-Jews across the globe, I looked to many places for inspiration, combining elements of various recipes. This recipe is very forgiving if you want to omit an ingredient or substitute something new. Just be sure to keep the interplay of sweet and savory.

Ingredients:

1 head green cabbage

Filling

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion

1 cup uncooked brown rice

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained

½ cup raisins

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped mint (spearmint works well)

1 teaspoon honey

Sauce

3 additional tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 8 ounce can tomato sauce

2 cups water

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Peel the cabbage: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place whole head of cabbage into pot and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from water and allow to cool slightly.

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I’d recommend tongs to remove the cabbage from the pot. And don’t throw away the water! It has lots of nutrirents from the cabbage. Use leftover cabbage leaves, onion, and any veggies on hand to make a light soup!

Very carefully begin to pull the outermost leaves from the cabbage, repeating process until you get to the heart. No worries if you tear a few of them—you can use them to line the bottom of baking pan and on top of rolls.

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This takes some time, so be patient. If the inner leaves are too tough, return the cabbage to boiling water for a minute to soften.

2) Prepare the filling: Heat oil in pot over medium hot. Add chopped onion and cook for 5 minutes of until translucent. Add brown rice and stir until coated in oil. Add water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce to simmer. Will likely take 30-45 minutes. Once rice is cooked, remove from heat and add raisins, parsley, and mint. Set aside to cool.

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Coating rice with oil and onion prior to cooking.

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You could also use dried currants or cranberries instead of raisins.

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I was very nervous about using a sweet herb like mint in this recipe, but it totally made the dish!

3) Make the sauce: Heat olive oil in yet another pot. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, water, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.

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Don’t let it boil over…I might have done that…

4) Stuff the cabbage: Add 2-3 tablespoons of filling into the center of each leave. Fold the left side of leaf over stuffing, then the two adjacent sides, and the final side. Place roll seam-side down into 9×13 Pyrex baking dish. Cover stuffed cabbage rolls with extra cabbage leaves.

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Kind of looks like the tofu lettuce wraps I get at P.F. Chang’s.

5) Pour sauce over rolls, and cover with extra cabbage leaves to lock flavors.

6) Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, until smell permeates room and sauce thickens.

7) Enjoy straight from the oven or as a cold snack. They also freeze beautifully!

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Ready to eat!

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S’more S’mores

The closest you can to get to a campfire s’more without the fire.

Thymetravelers is delighted to be back after a much needed summer break! Of course if you were in DC earlier this month, summer seemed to be in full swing.  Sure, the grocery stores had started carrying their usual fall wares: bulk bags of candy for trick-or-treaters, totes of apples for pie-making, and pumpkin-spice everything under the sun.  But it was 97 degrees outside! In September! So naturally I started to reminisce about one of my favorite summer treats, the s’more.

S’mores, the simple yet delicious childhood treat made of graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, seem so obvious…what else would we ever eat around the campfire, or at a post-game tailgate (preferably if the Brewers or Packers were playing)?

The first official recipe for s’mores was published in 1927 by The Girl Scouts of America in their handbook, Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts.  I’d like to point out that I was a proud girl scout in not one, but TWO troops during my youth. Like many dishes cooked around a fire, however, the s’more recipe was likely shared by word of mouth years before it was recorded for posterity. Indeed to look at the s’more’s history, we have to look at its ingredients and similar snacks of the time period.

While have already explored the history of chocolate and marshmallows, we have not yet discussed graham crackers. Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented graham flour in 1829. An avid vegetarian and health food advocate, he promoted coarsely ground whole wheat flour for its high fiber content. This flour, the main ingredient in the crackers, came to be named after Graham. One of Graham’s followers, Russell Thatcher Trall, became the first to manufacture the graham cracker in the 1850s.

Today’s sugary and processed graham crackers bear little resemblance to their predecessors, and their applications certainly are not healthy. Even before those girl scouts developed s’mores, graham crackers were already becoming a sweet treat instead of a nutritious biscuit. The Mallomar cookie was developed in 1913, and the moon pie soon followed in 1917. Both were strikingly similar to the s’more, which would be printed a decade later. In fact, it is completely conceivable that  s’mores were around already as well—it’s just that there weren’t any food historians recording these important matters!

For further reading:

Smith, Andrew, “Crackers.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 173. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.

http://www.country-magazine.com/short-stories/country-life-stories/smores-the-camping-treat/#ixzz3Cgwmvm59

http://whatscookingamerica.net/Cookie/Smores/Smores.htm

http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/Graham-Cracker-And-Graham-Flour-History.htm

 

The guys

My roommate and boyfriend proved to be very good rugelach makers! So we will all be opening up a bakery tomorrow…

Cooking Thyme

S’more Rugelach

Ingredients:

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

8 oz cream cheese at room temperature

¼ cup sugar

¼ tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cup marshmallow fluff

1 cup mini chocolate chips

1 ¼ cup crushed graham cracker crumbs  (I just use double ziplock bags and my fists)

1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp water for egg wash

Ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions:

1) Make the dough: Cream the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy. Add flour, sugar, and salt in small increments, beating slowly. Place dough on floured surface and roll into a ball. Break into 4 smaller balls and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least an hour.

2) Melt the fluff: Place fluff in a microwave-safe container and heat for 15 seconds. You may need to repeat this step throughout the process if marshmallow gets too thick.

Nope, I didn’t enjoy this step at all…

3) Roll the dough: Remove a ball from the fridge and place on well-floured surface. Roll into a circle, about 8-9 inches in diameter.

I’ve gotten so good at this! I miss hand though. She did conveniently visit the day after I made these, and enjoyed very much!

4) Pile on the layers: Spread a layer of marshmallow fluff across the dough . Top with graham cracker crumbs and chocolate chips. If you’d like, sprinkle with cinnamon as well.

It’s kind of like painting, but far more sticky than acrylic.

5) Cut into 12 wedges using a pizza-cutter or sharp knife. Roll up the rugelach, starting with the wider side.

Rolling the rugelach!

6) Brush the rugelach with egg whites and sprinkle cinnamon if desired.

7) Bake 15-20 minutes until rugelach is golden.

8) You should probably wait for them to cool, but who are we kidding? Just don’t burn yourself.

All ready to bring to your next picnic!

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As American as cherry pie?

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An actual cherry tree! George isn’t getting this one!

As Americans of all ages prepare to celebrate our nation’s independence, no doubt our minds go to the Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, my personal favorite Thomas Jefferson, and our first president, George Washington. Thanks to a fable involving George Washington chopping down a cherry tree, I associate cherries with the Fourth of July. After all, what is more American than cherry pie?

While cherry pie may well be American in origin (although even this is open for debate), cherries certainly are not. Both sweet and sour cherries are indigenous to the Mediterranean, in particular in southeastern Europe and Asia Minor.  The  species name for the sweet cherry, avium, refers to the birds who helped deposit cherry pits (let’s not think about how) to various regions.  Ancient Greeks were likely the first to domesticate sweet cherries.

Early European settlers brought cherries to America in the 1600s. Over time the fruit was distributed throughout the thirteen colonies. Thomas Jefferson grew cherries, I’ll have you know. As pioneers pushed further west, cherries followed, eventually traveling all the way to Washington state! In 1875, the Lewelling family of Oregon invented the Bing cherry. Unlike previous varieties, Bing cherries could safely travel without bruising.  Like other sweet cherries however, Bings are fussy. They can only grow in warm, dry places and rain and humidity will make them crack open.

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Look at these beauties!

America’s sour cherry industry began in the mid- nineteenth century, taking root in Michigan. Sour cherries are very perishable, making them impossible to transport and sell in stores. Thanks to advances in technology during the early 20th century, sour cherries could be sold frozen or canned.

So what makes cherries American? Perhaps it’s the George Washington fable. Perhaps it is the fact that they are bright red like the stripes of our flag. Regardless of the reason, cherries have certainly found their place at the American table.

For further reading:

Smith, Andrew, “Cherries.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 206-7. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.

http://homecooking.about.com/od/foodhistory/a/cherryhistory.htm

Cooking Thyme!

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A perfect contrast between tart and sweet

Cherry Crisp

I’m lucky to have lived in two regions where sour cherries grow well: Door County, WI and right outside of D.C. in Maryland.  If you do not feel like going to pick yopur own cherries, check your local farmer’s market. If fresh sour cherries are not available, look for frozen or canned varieties.

 

This recipe makes just the right amount for 4-6 people. If you plan to have more guests at your 1776 viewing party, simply double the ingredients and use a larger baking dish.

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I’m just getting started with cherry picking!

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh sour cherries

¾ cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

½ cup oats

½ cup brown sugar

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Directions:

1)      Pit the cherries. No cherry pitter? That’s ok…I certainly don’t have space for one in my kitchen. Instead, we used paper clips. Simply pierce the paperclip into the stem-end of the cherry and scoop out the pit.

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Stanton is using paper clips to remove pits

2)      Combine cherries, sugar, and flour and set aside.

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Cherry mixture awaiting topping

3)      In another bowl, mix oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Cut in butter by using two knives to “cut” butter into the dry ingredients. Butter chunks should eventually be pea-sized.

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Cutting the butter

4)      Lightly coat a 8×5 inch pyrex with butter or cooking spray.  Pour cherry mixture into pan. Top with oat blend.

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Topping with oat mixture

5)      Bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

6)      Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Might I suggest Thomas Jefferson’s?

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Yum!

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When life gives you lemons…

Lemons

I love lemons. They are so bright and cheerful!

Summer is finally here, and no fruit brings this to mind more than lemons. Whether as lemonade, in lemon sorbet, drizzled over grilled fish, or simply as a garnish for water or iced tea, lemon always seems to outshine. And it’s no wonder, given this citrus’s history. No one knows exactly when lemons originated, but most historians agree that they likely originated in India. Thanks to the Torah’s outlining of the four species to be waved on the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, we know that one of the lemon’s parents, the citron (ie estrog) was around well before the common era.

For much of the lemon’s early history, it was not used as a food, but rather as an ornamental plant for decorating homes and gardens, or  for medicinal properties. Historians believe that lemons made their way to Ancient Rome by the first century AD. Over the next few centuries, the citrus circulated across the Middle East and Mediterranean. Egyptians drank a beverage called kashkab , which was made of fermented barley, mint, rue, black pepper, and lemon leaf.  A combination of Arab conquerors, European crusaders, and Jewish merchants are believed to have helped lemons spread all the way from the Middle East to Europe.

European cultivation began in Genoa, Italy in the 15th century.  So it is no coincidence that Italian explorer Christopher Columbus brought lemon seeds on his voyage to the Americas, starting in Hispanola in 1493. Over the next few centuries, lemons were cultivated in California and Florida. Growers faced challenges in the late 19th century, especially during the harsh winter of 1894-5 when a freeze destroyed many of the lemons. Planting and mass production did not resume again for several decades. In fact, it wasn’t until 1953 that the industry recovered, when American consumers demanded frozen lemon (and orange) concentrates and lemon oil.

For further reading:

Smith, Andrew, “Lemons.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith, 206-7. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007.

http://wherefoodcomesfrom.com/article/248/The-History-Of-Lemons#.U6jlv_ldVyU

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=27

Cooking Thyme!

Summer Lemon Ice

Ice with gingersnap

Delicious and refreshing

Since Italy had such an important role in the lemon’s history, I thought it was only fair to prepare an old Italian favorite—lemon ice. I adapted this dessert from Julia Child’s recipe for lemon sorbet, adding a bit more lemon than she did because I like sour. If you don’t, no worries—feel free to use less lemon juice or zest!

Ingredients:

6 large lemons (you will need ½ cup lemon zest and 1 cup lemon juice)

2 ½ cups sugar

4 cups water

2 egg whites

1/8 teaspoon salt

Ginger snaps or wafers if you’d like

Directions:

1)      Prep lemons: grate ½ cup lemon zest and juice 1 cup lemon juice.

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Zesting the lemons with the wonderful zester I got from my Aunt Susan!

2)      Combine lemon zest and 1 cup sugar in a large saucepan. Add 1 ½ cups cold water.

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Lemon zest combined with sugar

3)      Place saucepan on heat and simmer. Add sugar and cook until dissolved.

4)      Remove from heat and add lemon juice and remaining water.

juicing

If you don’t have a juicer, you can also use a strainer or colander

5)      Chill mixture until at least at room temperature in the fridge or in an ice bath of ice cubes.

egg whites

Minerva is busy as always, whipping those egg whites!

6)      Whip egg whites and salt in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold into lemon mixture.

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Folding egg whites into lemon syrup mixture

7)      Now is the moment of choices. You may freeze the mixture in your ice cream machine or freeze in small containers and mix by hand every few hours until frozen solid.

Lemon ice freezing

You can see that it is beginning to freeze toward the center

8)      Serve with ginger cookies for best results.

eating

My friends gave the lemon ice rave reviews

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One Tough Cookie (to track)

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Why yes, they do taste as good as they look!

Happy Jewish American Heritage Month! I realize that May is almost over, but I’ve been busy baking all sorts of treats, including multiple birthday cakes. In fact, today’s cookie is sort of cake-like when baked properly.

Last year, we celebrated two of the most popular Jewish culinary contributions to America: challah and rugelach. Today’s recipe is believed to have Jewish roots as well, although its origins are pretty fuzzy. Unlike rugelach and challah, black and white cookies (also known as half-moons) likely were NOT brought from Europe with Jewish immigrants. In fact, the story may be the other way around!

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Minerva is sooo happy Passover is over!

Many food historians trace black and white cookies back to New York, where Jewish delicatessens offered a wide range of baked goods using familiar and new ingredients from their nations of origin and the United States respectively. The cookies were probably developed sometime in the early 20th century, the peak of Jewish immigration to the United States (and in particular New York’s Lower East Side).

Some credit Hemstrought’s Bakery of Utica, New York, as the innovator of black and white cookies, but this has not been verified. In fact, it is entirely plausible that a non-Jewish bakery created the confections, and kosher-style delis simply followed suit.

To further complicate matters, Germany has a similar cookie called an Amerikaner, which very well may have been introduced by American soldiers during and after World War II, bringing the cookie full circle.

The black and white cookie’s ambiguity is just another example of why I love history. We are always in pursuit of more evidence.

For further reading:

http://www.beyondburgersandbratwurst.com/2007/03/29/the-black-and-white-cookie-meets-the-amerikaner/

http://www.sweetoothdesign.com/#!cookie-black-white/ccls

http://germanfood.about.com/od/baking/r/Amerikaner_Cookies.htm

 

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This recipe makes dozens of cookies (no worries, they freeze well).

Cooking Thyme!

 

Black and white cookies

 

Ingredients:

4 cups cake flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter
1¾ cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons fresh grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup milk

 

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
⅓ cup water
¼ cup light corn syrup
5 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions:

1)      In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

photo 1

Cake flour makes these cookies soft and fluffy.

2)      Use your Minerva or handmixer to cream butter. Gradually add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

3)      Add eggs, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla and lightly mix.

4)      Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk to butter mixture.

photo 3

Stanton is taking this whole dough scooping process very seriously.

5)      Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop ¼ cup of batter and gently plop on tray. Flatten slightly (these are NOT drop cookies). Repeat, leaving two inches or so between each cookie.

6)      Bake at 375 degrees for 12-18 minutes, until cookies are just slightly brown. Allow to cool completely before removing.

7)      Make the icing: Melt chocolate in microwave on 20-second intervals (otherwise it will burn) and set aside. Add water and corn syrup to a saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Remove from stove and add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour ¾ cup of the mixture into the chocolate bowl. Stir until combined. You now have 2 icings!

8)      Ice the cookies: Flip cookies upside down. Using a spoon or knife, frost half of the each cookie with vanilla icing, then chocolate.

photo 4

Stanton and Jake helped ice all of the cookies at 11 pm. Thanks guys!

9)      Enjoy!

***Tip:  Use layers of wax paper to prevent cookies from sticking together during storage.

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