Archive for the ‘Dessert’ Category

For a brief time I was a guest columnist here but life interfered and I’ve been gone quite awhile. It’s been too long. And as my title implies, I have reasons but no excuses.

In January 2008 I got a new job — incredibly challenging. Six weeks later, my mother — who had always been healthy, strong and vibrant and who was 10 years younger than my father — was diagnosed with terminal, metastasized lung cancer. In the middle of this, I started questioning whether or not I wanted to stay in my then-relationship. (I guess the “then” gives away what my decision ultimately was.) My entire life was in upheaval and everything that was not necessary to move forward got put on hold — including the writing.

By March, I’d pretty much decided to leave the relationship but was putting off the actual exit until we could see what effect Mom’s chemo would have on her prognosis. In June, she had her last chemo and was doing so well we were all convinced it had worked wonders. False hope: it shrank the lung tumor but every other tumor grew in the meantime. However, during the time we thought it had worked well enough to make an actual difference in her timeline, two things happened: I told my ex I was leaving, and, that same week, I met face to face someone I had happened to meet online the week before — and knew as soon as I laid eyes on him that I was supposed to be with him forever.

She deteriorated quickly. She died on August 31. Four days before, on her last lucid night, she met the man I married four months to the day later (last Saturday, in fact), and he was with me when she died. I have not begun to assimilate her loss nor the joy my new husband brings me, but I am trying to look both of these huge changes in my life squarely in the eye and take whatever they have to offer.

My mother was a gourmet cook and taught me well. She’d love the idea that I was sharing my recipes here: she not only sent me hundreds of recipes over the years but every time she found a new kitchen gadget she liked, she bought four of them — one for her and one for each of her children. She was a generous woman, and in the name of that generosity, well, I’ll try to get back here more often and share the culinary wealth.

Iced Spiced Ginger Bars

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 teas baking soda
1 teas cinnamon
1 teas ginger
1 teas cloves
1/8 teas salt
1 cup hot coffee
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
1/3 cup butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 teas vanilla
3 or 4 tablespoons water
Oven 350. Grease 13×9 pan. Blend all bar ingredients at low speed until moistened than at medium speed for 2 minutes, bake 350 for 20-30 minutes or until top springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pan.

For frosting: medium saucepan over low heat, cook butter until light golden brown, stirring constantly. Add remaining frosting ingredients, mix until smooth, pour over bars and allow to harden. Makes 36.


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You HAVE to Try This!

Wow, this is good:

Apple Crisp


3 huge granny smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced and chunked, or tart apples to fill a 9-inch pie pan

1/2 c sugar

1 teas cinnamon

Topping :

3/4 c flour

1/2 c sugar

1/3 c butter, melted

Oven 400

Grease a 9-inch pie pan or equivalent size casserole dish. Toss the apple pieces with the sugar and cinnamon. Spread in the pan.  Mix the flour and sugar and melted butter well, should be crumbly. Sprinkle over the apples in the pan. Bake 40 minutes. Apply fork to mouth liberally and prepare to defend it from anyone who thinks you have any intention of sharing.

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I love shortbread. People have mixed feelings about it — some think it’s dry, or just not what they think a cookie ought to be. Well, I’m not one of them, and I have some recipes to back that opinion up. Besides, it’s easy to make, and quick — serious benefits in my opinion.

Pecan Shortbread

2 sticks butter, softened (oh heck, go ahead and melt it in the microwave.)

2/3 c confectioner’s sugar

1.5 c flour

1 c chopped pecans

1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix. Chill one hour. Then make it into two long logs, about 2 inches across, wrap them in saran wrap, and freeze them for a couple of hours.

Slice the frozen rolls into 1/4 inch slices, put on a cookie sheet, bake 375 for 12-15 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Lemon Pistachio Shortbread

This one either originated in bon appetit or gourmet — can’t remember which. But their version uses a food processor and I’m way lazier than that.

2 sticks butter, softened (what was that I said about just melting it?)

1.5 c flour

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c semolina flour (it’s the flour that pasta is made from. Fairly easy to get, actually.)

1.5 teaspoons grated lemon peel (now, fresh IS better but use what you can get.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup shelled, chopped pistachios

Oven 325.

Butter a 13x9x2 metal pan. Spread entire cookie dough batch in pan and press evenly to edges. Pierce the dough all over with a fork. Bake about 35 minutes, should be pale brown in the center, golden at the edges.

Important: let cool 10 minutes. Cut into 4 lengthwise strips and 6 crosswise squares at this point (before it hardens any but after its cooled a little) then let it cool the rest of the way.

This one’s unbelievably good:

Hazelnut Espresso Shortbread

Likewise from BA or Gourmet, likewise they use a food processor and all that — and likewise, I’m too lazy and too impatient for these to wait that long!

2 cups flour

1 cup light brown sugar

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon espresso powder (it’s like espresso instant coffee, not hard to find)

3/4 teas salt

2 sticks softened butter (you know my feelings about this by now)

1 teas vanilla extract

2/3 c chopped hazelnuts

oh, 1/2 cup or so of milk chocolate chips

Mix everything except the chocolate chips. Halve the dough and press each half into the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan, evenly, all the way to the sides. Bake 350 for 20 minutes or so. Toss chocolate chips on top and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes or so, until the shortbread is a deep golden brown. Cool 10 minutes, cut into pie-shaped wedges, cool the rest of the way.

If you like these, rest assured we’ll be revisiting the whole shortbread topic…..

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