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Swedish Vanilla Sugar Cookies

December 12, 2016

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Here is a favorite cookie from my childhood.  They are magical:  they instantly dissolve in your mouth.  It’s a light and airiness I’ve never experienced in any other food.

The magic ingredient is baking ammonia.  According to a Martha Stewart article:

  • it was originally made from ground antler horns
  • in Swedish it is called Hartshorn.  (hart = male deer)
  • It was the forerunner of Baking Powder and Baking Soda.
  • It completely evaporates out of these dry airy cookies, but it can make your kitchen smell of ammonia.

One needs to get fresh baking ammonia each year, which is easier these days with online sources like King Arthur Flour.  A link is below in the ingredient list.

These cookies came into my life because my aunt, who is a gourmet chef and who edited four cookbooks for her Junior League, would host a Christmas Cookie Swap party in December.  Her friend, Mrs Parmelee, would bring these cookies.  It was an old family recipe.  All the participants would give the recipes for their cookies, but Mrs Parmelee would always tweak hers, so no-one else could make them.  This lasted for my whole childhood.  In my mid-20s, Mrs Parmelee realized that at this rate, she would die with the recipe, so she finally started to share the correct recipe.  I was thrilled.  I made them often for a while, until I starting avoiding both regular flour and sugar.  But this year, I made them for two charity bake sales, and as always, they were fantastic.

I also made them with one-to-one substitutions of Einkorn flour and one-to-one substitution Jovial Foods #3 Gluten Free Pastry Flour.  Both versions worked really well too.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 gr) white sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2t Vanilla Sugar (Confectioners Sugar with Vanilla in it) or 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 cup (130 gr) AP flour
  • 1 tsp Baker’s Ammonia
  • Confectioners (Powdered) Sugar

Directions:

  • Cream butter, then add sugar.  (Mrs P uses a wooden spoon.  My Aunt uses a stand mixer.)
  • Add egg yolk and vanilla.
  • Sift together flour and Baking Ammonia, add a little at a time to butter mixture (Mrs P does this by hand.)
  • Roll dough into small (2cm) balls
  • Place balls 2″ (5cm) apart on greased baking sheet
  • Bake at 275/300 for 20 minutes (may need to rotate trays at 10 minutes)
  • If the cookies flow out and flatten too much, add more flour.
  • When the cookies have cooled, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.
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Pesto

January 3, 2014

I went to a vegetable gardening class last Spring at a local farm.  The farmer took a survey and asked what people thought was the easiest things to grow.  My experience from trying to garden at the condo made me think basil and my experience at the house made me think garlic.  So making pesto is a natural result!  But since I’m trying to not eat gluten, or even grains, I’m trying to figure out what to do with it besides put on pasta!  Last summer, a friend suggested:  coat it on chunks of cooked potatoes or veggies.  So, I’ve gone back to making pesto.  After a few go rounds, I think this is the cheapest, quickest, laziest way to do it (assuming you have a food processor and know how to use the various blades, a skill that took a great deal of time, thought and experimenting for me to acquire!):

  • In the Cuisinart food processor, using the normal blade, start it running, drop in 3-4 cloves of garlic, run until minced.
  • Stop machine, add 1 c (= 3 oz) walnuts, then run to mince.
  • Switch to cheese grating blade, grate 2 1/2 oz Pecorino Romano cheese into bowl.
  • Switch back to normal cutting blade, run to combine the above.
  • Add 2 clean, dry basil, run until pureed.
  • Taste to make sure you like these proportions.
  • Add EVOO until right consistency.
  • Fill ice cube trays, cover with Saran wrap, freeze.
  • Transfer to ziplock bag.
  • I use 2-3 ice cubes per potato dish for our family of 3.

Swiss Chard Lasagna

January 3, 2014

I got this recipe from Hilary Boynton (HilaryBoynton.com)  She is a wonderful Nourish Traditions based nutritionist and cooking teacher in West Concord, MA.  I’ve tweaked the proportions (like tripling the cheese!) and beefed it up to make it a one pot meal with ground meat.  The Gruyere cheese makes it delicious, the meat makes it a meal, and the greens make it super healthy!  This recipe has become a family favorite, and it freezes well!

Ingredients:

  • 2 large bunches of Swiss Chard or Kale.  Clean, remove stems, cut or tear into hand sized pieces.
  • 2 T butter, chopped into small pieces
  • 6 medium or 10 small potatoes, sliced thin on a mandolin (setting “I” on mine)
  • 1.4 lbs Gruyere cheese, grated (in food processor)
  • 1 lb ground meat, browned (we use buffalo)
  • 2 yellow onions, cut into strips, browned
  • 3 big cloves of garlic, sliced or minced
  • 1 t dried Thyme or 1 T fresh Thyme
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk
  • 4 T grated Parmesean Cheese (or Pecorino Romano)

Directions:

  • Preheat Oven 350 degrees
  • Large oval or rectangle covered casserole dish (I use a 9.5 quart (dark purple) Le Cruset covered oval pot) but Hilary used a rectangular Pyrex dish and covered it with aluminum foil
  • Layer in pot:
  • 1/3 of the Butter
  • 1/3 of the Potatoes
  • 1/3 of the Swiss Chard/Kale
  • 1/3 of ground meat
  • 1/3 of the onions
  • 1/3 of the garlic
  • 1/3 of the Cheese
  • 1/3 of the Thyme
  • repeat 2 more times
  • add milk (for moisture)
  • Cover and bake 45 minutes
  • Uncover, add Parmesean cheese, bake another 15 minutes until browned

Hilary says nutmeg works well with the Gruyere cheese, though I have not tried that yet…

Chicken Soup

January 3, 2014

I have a photo, hmm, where is it…?

Nourish’s Traditions’ chicken broth recipe:

  • 2 1/2+ lbs of chicken bones (I usually use bones from 2 (cooked) chickens & 4 (cooked) legs)
  • a couple of stalks of celery chopped
  • a couple of carrots chopped
  • yellow onion cut into chunks
  • (some times I add 2 Bay Leaves)
  • 1 T Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Put above in large stock pot, fill with good quality water.
  • Cover and simmer for 12 -24 hours (or longer, one time it simmered for 3 days!) (on stove top or in crock pot)(check and stir periodically, add water as needed)
  • Strain bones, etc. from broth.
  • Save half of the broth in freezer for later.
  • (Can repeated the process with the leftover bones, etc for a second round of broth.  It won’t be as intense but still good, certainly good enough for cooking rice, etc.)

Soup recipe:

  • Take half the broth.
  • Add 1 cup barley (pearled is softer, cooks more quickly; hulled is firmer, cooks 1+hrs) to broth.
  • Cook 4-8 (or so, 1.3 lbs) thighs in broth until done.  Remove, let cool enough to touch, tear or cut into small bite sized pieces.
  • Add frozen okra (that was cut in discs), allow to cook enough that it gets nice and soft when it is eaten.
  • Add ~2 bags of frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, beans, broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper).  Allow took cook long enough that it warms up and partially cooks but stop while greens are still bright.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Serve.
  • Freezes well.

Italian Wedding Soup

January 3, 2014

My friend Nicole shared some of her homemade Italian Wedding Soup recently.  It tasted FABULOUS!!!!  There was something unusual about the taste of the broth that really knocked my socks off.  So, I was inspired to try to make is for us.  Nicole hadn’t written down the recipe, but sent me a link that was her starting point.  She told me her modifications.  Altough one detail, her Italian family’s special meatball recipe, was not shared.  I too just used the recipe as a starting point and I modified almost every ingredient and line!

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb Sweet Italian Sausage (was 2 links) (contains pork, fennel, etc)
  • 3/4 lb ground pork
  • 2/3 c oats (instant, rolled, plain)
  • 2 T minced garlic (next time, send through garlic press)
  • 1/8 oz (=1/4 c?) parsley (from my frozen parsley log)
  • 1/2 c parmesan cheese (also from my freezer stash)
  • 3 T (=1/4c?) milk (goat, of course)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

Meatball Instructions:

  • Put all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Then turn on your oven to 350.
  • Then line two baking sheets with parchment paper and make small (bite sized) meatballs.
  • Bake 30? minutes until done.  I let mine get quite browned, they were a bit hard but still yummy.

Soup Ingredients:

  • 3 T pasture butter
  • 1 c yellow onion, diced
  • 1 c carrot, diced
  • 1 c celery, diced
  • 1/8 t Ju’s salt
  • 8 1/2 c chicken broth (homemade via Nourishing Traditions)
  • 3 iced cubes of white wine (next time aim for 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 c barley cooked in 1 1/2 c water (next time bouillon broth?)
  • 1/8 t parsley
  • 8 oz fresh Kale (cleaned, destemmed, cut into bite sized pieces)
  • ~2 t salt (to taste)
  • extra Parmesean cheese for serving

Soup Instructions:

  • While meatballs are baking:
  • Get barley cooking
  • Get large pot of water boiling to do a 3 min blanch of kale later.
  • Dice onion, carrot & celery.
  • In a large soup pot, melt butter.  Saute carrots, onions, celery for 5-6 min until soft.
  • Add wine and chicken broth.
  • Blanch Kale in boiling water for 3 min.  Then drain.
  • Add meatballs.
  • Add barley and kale.
  • Salt to taste.
  • Dish up into bowls.
  • Sprinkle on Parmesan cheese, serve. (I think this is the key step for the phenomenal broth flavor, so don’t skip it or use fake cheese!)

It all took me 2 1/2 hours from start to eating. This also included some other kitchen clean up and toddler interactions.  And cleaning much of what I had made dirty.

Nicole canned hers, then stored it in the freezer.

Apple Crisp (Gluten Free)

January 3, 2014

I cannot believe that I don’t have a picture of this!  I’ll have to correct that soon!

Compared to the previous Apple Pie recipe, this is much easier and faster to make:

Coating for apples:

  • 6 c cored, sliced apples (unpeeled mouth sized chunks are my favorite.  Our new 6 slicer)
  • 1/4 c flour (brown rice flour, Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour)
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t nutmeg

coat apples, pour in 7 x 11″ (2 Qt) pyrex dish (it’s my smaller rectangular Pyrex dish)

if apples are dry, add about 1 c apple cider to coat bottom of the dish

Topping:

  • 1 c flour (brown rice flour, Bob’s Red Mill GF AP flour)
  • 1/2 c GF oats (rolled)
  • 1/3 c dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 c melted butter
  • mix until crumbly
  • if needed add about 1 T apple cider to make right consistency

Allen’s (GF) Apple Pie

November 29, 2013

My husband, Allen sent me this recipe to post via email.  He’s quite proud of the pie, and it did turn out great!

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Wondering what to do with an abundant harvest of Granny Smith apples this year, I’ve turned to Apple pie (as well as Apple Sauce, Apple Cider …).

So, I created a tasty Gluten Free Apple Pie as follows:

Pie Crust

This is more or less a doubled version of a recipe found the Bob’s Red Mill website, with a few changes.  (http://www.bobsredmill.com/recipes_detail.php?rid=1126)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • Two sticks Unsalted Butter
  • about 8 Tbsp of Cold Whole Milk (you may need slightly more, or less, to make the dough moist enough)

Directions

  • Combine flour and salt, then cut in butter using a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually add milk while blending, until all ingredients are moist.
  • Cut dough in half and set aside one portion for the pie top.
  • Place first half of dough onto one sheet, flatten with palm, place another sheet on top and roll out to desired size. Remove the top sheet and invert into pie pan.

 

Pie Filling:

The filling is based on a recipe from Paula Deen (with some corrections) and modified to accommodate the Gluten Free Crust… (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/paulas-apple-pie-filling-recipe/index.html)

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup or so of light brown sugar (since Granny Smiths are tart, I used closer to a cup.)
  • 1/4 cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All-Purpose Baking Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
  • 7 medium apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • Egg wash, for brushing
  • Additional Light brown Sugar + Cinnamon, for sprinkling

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Mix together the ¾ cup light brown sugar, flour, ¾ Teaspoon cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  • In another bowl, coat apples with the Lemon juice and zest, then stir in the sugar mixture to evenly coat the apples.
  • Mound the apple and sugar mixture into the pie pan lined with dough. Dot with the cubed butter.
  • Roll out the remaining half of the pie crust dough.  Then, using a pastry cutter, cut an even number of strips about ¾ inch to 1 inch wide from the dough (6 or 8 strips work well).
  • Transfer every other strip to the pie top and weave in the lattice by folding every other strip back onto itself and laying another strip perpendicularly. Fold the strips back across and repeat until completed.
  • Brush the top of the pie with egg wash and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon and sugar. Trim the overhanging dough and crimp edges.
  • Bake pie at 400 degrees 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and cook for an additional 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.  The pie must cool AT LEAST 20 minutes before slicing.  (You need to give the pie filling time to cool and gel, or you’ll have a beautiful crust filled with apple soup!)
  • While the pie is cooking, use any remaining dough to make a Cinnamon roll for a quick and easy family treat!
– Your Loving Husband Extraordinaire
:-*   :-*   :-*