Saturday, June 29, 2013

Shortbread (Chrys Radmore)

Shortbread is one of my favourite cookies. They're great as a snack, they're great after dinner with a cup tea... and they always remind me of Christmas. Apparently, when my dad was younger, he used to refer to them as "Clean Cookies".

Christmas at my grandparent's house was heaven. Warm, cozy, outdoor Christmas light glow in the living room, the smells, the sounds... the incredibly uncomfortable dresses and panty-hose I always needed to wear. We always went to church on Christmas Eve with Grandpa, and when we came home we'd open presents and eat delicious desserts. All sorts of cookies, squares and cakes. The top-ranking in my books was the shortbread, no questions asked.

This recipe is credited to Chrys Radmore. Chrys and her husband Lorne were the witnesses when my grandparent's got married. Their nephew (Dave Radmore) was in my parent's wedding as well. Berdina Radmore's husband and Lorne were brothers - Dave Radmore was Berdina's son.

Get all that? haha.

Grandma is wearing a very light blue dress.
When I got married, I wore the sash from this dress under mine as my 'something blue'

So, onto the recipe, shall we? It's a tough one, so pay close attention...

The Recipe Card:

The Process:

When a recipe starts out with a pound of butter and a cup of icing sugar, you know you're in good shape. When those two ingredients comprise 2/3 of the recipe, you know you're in even better shape.

I creamed the butter and icing sugar together first.

Full disclosure: I can't lie...
I unleashed my inner child and had a bit of a taste-test at this stage.
Then I added the flour. 

I started panicking that it was just never going to get mixed, so I decided I would just my hands. Biggest mistake of my life. Before I did that though, I took off my grandma's ring and put it on this little ring holder she used to have in her room. She stored her rings on the centre part, some watches and usually some random earrings. It was always fun to poke around in it. 

Anyway, recipes like this always freak me out a little. I'm always amazed that all that flour can get mixed in perfectly. Just when I feel like I'm losing hope, it all starts to come together and it's a beautiful thing.

Back when I made the jam layer treat, there was a handy little tip about flattening the bottom layer with a spoon dipped in hot water. I was blown-away by this at the time, but when it came time to make the shortbread, I distinctly remember my grandmother telling me that before we pressed on them with a fork, we had to dip the fork into warm water. I was helping her do this and was singing a little song "dip dip shake squish". I was home from school sick and she told me that if I was too sick to go to school, then I was too sick to "dip dip shake squish" - but then she let me do it anyways :) After making cookies we likely sat in the living room drinking ginger ale and watching Bob Ross. 

In the oven. I've got my helper in the kitchen with me keeping an eye on the progress.

The Recipe:

1 lbs Butter
1 cup Icing Sugar
4 cup Flour

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes

Personal Notes:
  • Absolutely not necessary to grease the baking sheet. The butter from the cookies themselves even melted out of them a bit - causing a little boiling-butter party around the base of the first batch in the oven.
  • I gave them an addition 2-3 minutes, and I feel like it have have been another minute. Or, the oven at 350 for the same amount of time.
It yielded about 6 dozen. We ate a lot of them, brought some over to my brothers to share with his family and my dad, and then gave some to friends. 

Needless to say, making these sure brought back a lot of memories. More so than any other of the recipes so far. 

Next up, another one of my favourites Garden Quiche. 


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cauliflower Parmesan (Ro)

Happy Saturday, friends!

It's been a week since I shared a recipe with you - and this weekend there is going to be a lot going on in the kitchen, so I have to get caught up! It's raining here today, and we have some lovely friends coming over tonight so I want to make them a special treat. I'll share that with you later this week, but for now, I've got something REALLY yummy to share with you.

This recipe was amazing. I love cauliflower, but cauliflower with cheese and sauce? Yes, please.

This was Ro's recipe. Ro (Rosalie) was my grandpa's sister, and I got a bit more information about her from my aunt.
"Ro always seemed exotic. No kids, had a job, nice clothes, hair and nails, slim, with time to indulge in hobbies and crafts. She was an aficionado of the Kraft recipes, which were shown on commercials and all labels. Amazing gooey desserts with Kraft miniature marshmallows. She died in 1986."
Well, this recipe certainly falls under the 'gooey' category!

The Recipe Card:

The Process:

Step 1 is parboiling the cauliflower. Actually, back the train up, step 1 is learning what parboiling is... step 2 is parboiling. Set the cauliflower aside and start working on the rest of the deliciousness.

When I started this, I made a vow to use all the same ingredients as stated in the recipe - no substitutions unless absolutely necessary. Well, I broke that vow. I know mushrooms are great for you, and a lot of people love them. I loathe mushrooms. Honestly, even the site of them gives me the creeps. I just can't get over that they are fungus... and I'm expected to eat that? Not so much.

I did a quick search online for substitutes, and some people had mentioned zucchini as a great alternative. DONE!

I sauteed the zucchini with the chives and thanked my lucky stars that we are technologically advanced enough to be able to find *anything* on the internet. Because when you're mom's not home, who are you going to ask these sorts of questions?

Transfer with a slotted spoon to oven safe dish. Then with the butter that's left over in the pan, you make the cream sauce.

Mix it all together in the baking dish and top with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Pop it in the oven and you're ready to go!

The Recipe:

1 cup chopped Mushrooms
1/2 tsp chopped Onion or Chives
4 tbsp Butter
2 tbsp Flour
1 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper
1/4 cup chopped Parsley
1 large Cauliflower, parboiled in florets
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

1. Saute mushrooms and onion in butter 5 minutes, then lift with slotted spoon to a buttered oven dish.
2. In a saucepan stir flour into butter over medium heat and when bubbly, stir in milk with a whisk. Season with salt, pepper and parsley.
3. Combine drained cauliflower with mushrooms in over dish, pour white sauce over top and sprinkle with cheese.
4. Bake 450 for 20 minutes. Serves 6.

My Personal Notes:

  • I used zucchini instead of mushrooms. Apparently zucchini has a very similar texture once cooked, so it was a good alternative in my mind! It was delicious and added some great colour.
  • When given the choice of onions or chives, I will always choose chives. They don't make you cry when you're cutting them, they smell delicious and they add great colour to the dish. 
  • Fresh parmesan is delicious. It made the perfect topping for this already amazing side. 

You should definitely try this out! Ro knew what she was doing with this one :)

Up next we're going back to the basics with one of the most easiest recipes in the history of time - but the perfection is all in the baking.... Shortbread!


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Ham & Broccoli Rollups

I'm really excited to share this recipe today; it was fun to make, it was delicious, and I know a little bit about where the recipe came from!

These Ham and Broccoli Rollups were amazing - Ham, swiss cheese, steamed broccoli and sauce (which I would say is comparable to a slightly less heart-attack-inducing Hollandaise sauce...)

A little history about this recipe; my mom worked with a woman named Chris Moxsmeth many, many years ago. She got this recipe from her. A few years back, after my mom had moved to another province, she was at a community school as part of a choir and met another "Moxsmeth". Turns out that this lady's husband and Chris' husband were related somehow.

What a small world!

Mom gave this recipe to grandma, so it is quite obviously the 'newcomer' to the red tin box.

The Recipe Card

The Process
All I can say about this is that I'm SO glad I had an extra set of hands! I was totally unprepared for the amount of 'stuff' was needed for this; ingredients, steps, kitchen space! I think the trick to this one is prep. Prep, prep, prep!

Here's how I went about it:

First, I sliced up the ham - I tried to get it as thin as possible, but had a hard time with that. Definitely the thinner the better on this one. The thinner it is, the easier it will be to get the toothpicks to hold it all together.

Then I steamed the broccoli and set it aside. These are going into the oven again to heat up, so you don't have to worry about keeping everything warm.  I sliced the cheese and set it aside as well.

The sauce was probably the most labour-intensive part (aside from the assembly, but I'll get to that!)

From my understanding, most cream sauces are made the same way; butter, flour... add the wet ingredients. While the butter was melting, I mixed the "add in" ingredients (PS I'm not the 'tidiest' cook...)

After the butter melted, I added in the flour and the mixture from above. Yum!

Then the milk.

It already looks amazing now, but just wait... you still have to add the egg yolks and reserved pineapple juice. Divine!

Then comes the fun part. I took a picture of all them at each step: slice of ham, cheese, broccoli, sauce, roll-up!

Off it goes into the oven - hurray!

The Recipe

Ham & Broccoli Roll-ups (make's 2 servings)

4 slice Ham
2 slices Swiss Cheese
1 10oz pkg Broccoli
1 8oz can Pineapple

1-1/2 tsp Flour
1-1/2 tsp Butter
1-1/2 tsp Horseradish
1 tsp Prepared Mustard
1/4 tsp grated Onion
1/4 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/8 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Milk
1 slightly beaten egg yolk

1. Cook broccoli (steam). Drain pineapple and reserve 1/2 cup juice.
2. In saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour and horseradish, mustard, onion, worcestershire sauce and salt. Add milk. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly (let cool slightly). Combine egg yolk and reserved juices and stir slowly into hot mixture. Cook and stir over medium heat again until thickened. Cool slightly.
3. Place two slices of ham one on top of the other. Place 1 slice swiss cheese on top of ham. Place broccoli florets on top of the cheese (at one end since this will be rolled). Spoor 1 tbsp sauce over broccoli. Roll up and secure with toothpick. Poor rest of sauce over rollups.

Cover and bake at 350 for 25 minutes. Garnish with pineapple.

I forgot to pour the rest of the sauce over them before I cooked the ham.
I'm kinda glad I did! They got nice and browned (since I also had no foil to cover them with)

My Personal Notes

  • As I mentioned, the thinner the ham the better
  • I doubled the recipe as we had guests over, and I had plenty!
  • The recipe says to lay two layers of ham on top of each other and then add the insides - I did not do this. I used 1 piece of ham for each rollup. In hindsight though, it might be that two pieces were supposed to be overlapping only a little, so that the ham rolls up and around to make a complete cylinder. Know what I mean?
  • I totally forgot to garnish with pineapple, and I think that would have been the icing on the cake!
  • I omitted horseradish because I couldn't find any... :P
  • I used chives instead of grated onion. 
  • In step 2, it says to cool the sauce slightly after it is done. This is very important if you don't want the sauce oozing out. Since it's already thick, it doesn't pour all over the place, but if you let it cool slightly it because even thicker and stays in place. Makes the rolling part a little less messy.

All said and done, this was awesome. I don't remember grandma making this, but I'm sure she rocked it. She had a way of taking the most simple ingredients and making something magical with it. You know how food always tastes better when someone else prepares it? Maybe it was something like that - but let me tell you, she could make me a sandwich with veggies from their garden and it would be like the heaven's opened up and angels sung with every bite.

Her hugs were perfection, too.

Up next is Cauliflower Parmesan!


Saturday, June 15, 2013

A little more information!

Hello everyone,

I wanted to pop by quickly before I wrote up the next recipe to share an email I got from my aunt (my grandma's daughter) the other day. She graciously filled in some of the blanks in my recipes, and gave me a little more of the 'personal' side of the story:

"SAVOURY SUPPER was one of my favourite meals as a kid and I still make it, even though Michael doesn't get the point. I use 'breakfast sausages' and brown them first. Using a good tomato soup is also important. The batter topping is essentially a Yorkshire pudding, which always collapses soon after coming from the oven. Mom always made it in a square or rectangular dish with two lines of sausages. 
CRANBERRY COBBLER was exciting to see, because that's my handwriting, and is from my high school home ec class. I loved it, but had completely forgotten about it until I saw your blog. I'm going to try it again. 
GUMDROP CAKE - saw it in the 'upcoming' list. This was Grandma Ada's recipe and one of my favourite cakes. She used to make it and ship it to me out here. She left the gumdrops whole, which made for an extremely heavy cake, and makes it very hard to bake all the way through, so it might be worth experimenting with using a bundt pan. 
The other dinner both Bob and I loved is something Mark and I always called 'Hamburger Slop'. Mom had a different name for it, but it's essentially her version of Sloppy Joes over mashed potatoes. Did you find that recipe? 
Mom was known as a good cook and baker - at school, kids used to fight over who would get my unwanted lunch items"

Thanks aunt Jeanne for the email!

Last thing... this picture :) Grandma in the kitchen of "the cottage" long before I was even born. I just love her pants.


Sunday, June 9, 2013

Jam Layer Treat (Heather)

That's right folks, after the (almost) epic fail of the Savoury Supper, I've gone back to desserts. They are almost impossible to mess up, and they are always delicious!

Jam Layer Treat (Heather)

On the menu today is Jam Layer Treat. And a treat it was! Typically, I tend to avoid anything in layers - mainly because it means you have to bake the thing twice. I'm the first to admit I'm an instant gratification kind of gal (this is the exact reason I gave up on knitting and started making cards. Unless your training for the Olympics in their Speed Knitting category like my mom, it's very unlikely you're going to get something done in an hour).

Today's recipe is my Aunt Heather's treat. My Aunt Heather and Uncle George (Uncle George is my grandfather's brother) lived down the street from my grandparents (and us) when I was growing up and they were a big part of our life too. Fortunately, we still see them semi-regularly - generally Remembrance Day and lately, funerals. But they are good people, like my grandparents. Kind, giving, involved in their community - the whole package.

Grandma is the one with the bow on her head
Aunt Heather is the one laughing at her
Unfortunately I don't have a lot of pics of my Aunt Heather but I found this one with them at the Legion preparing bows for a "Brown Bag Lunch".

I was excited to try this recipe out and honour my grandmother (who liked it enough to save it) and my great-aunt, who it belonged to!

The Recipe Card:
Jam Layer Treat Recipe - Front

Jam Layer Treat Recipe - Back

Can you tell it was well loved? I'm going to guess that the brown splotches is the topping - someone must have gotten a little wild and crazy with the spoon.

The Process:
I was so pleasantly surprised to see that this 'layer' treat was not baked twice! This is good news for lazy-in-the-kitchen me.

First step, making the bottom - basically a glorified shortbread. yum!

Flour, better, sugar... who needs more than that? Seriously. That's it.

The best part? The recipe included this absolutely amazing little tidbit of technique. It has definitely been stored away in the memory banks for years to come:

"A spoon dipped in hot water will make it easier spreading"

A spoon dipped in hot water will make it easier to spread you say?

Right as rain! It worked like a charm.

Mmmm base layer...

Next up, adding the jam layer. Easy enough! No exact measurements here, go willy-nilly with the Welch's, my friends! 

And then it's time to mix up the topping. If there is someone out there who can explain the need for whipping egg whites into peeks only to add more ingredients that will flatten them down again anyway, I would love to hear from you. 

Especially since I don't have one of these fancy egg beating contraptions that my grandma had:

Photo Source

I digress.... So, I whipped the egg whites as stiff as I could get them without losing my limb in the process, and off we go.

"Mostly" stiff egg whites

Add the remaining ingredients and pour on top of the already delicious looking base layers. 

Pop it in the oven and brace yourself for the longest 35 minutes you've ever experienced. 

The Recipe:

3/4 cup Butter or Margarine
1/4 cup Sugar
1-1/2 cup sifted Flour

1 egg white
3/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Vanilla
1/2 cup shredded Coconut

Cream butter, add sugar and blend well. Add flour gradually.
When well mixed, spread evenly in cake pan 8" square
(A spoon dipped in hot water will make it easier spreading)
Spread thinly with jam.
Beat egg white until stiff. Add sugar, salt and vanilla. Fold in Coconut
Cover with topping and bake 325 for 35 mins

YES!! You see that?! Bake 325 degrees for 35 minutes!! Who knew that someday baking instructions would make me giddy - the things you take for granted...

All done!

My Personal Notes:

  • As you can see from the photos, I clearly forgot the very delicate process of creaming the butter and the sugar together and then gradually adding the flour. That goes back to the instant gratification comment above. Or the lazy-in-the-kitchen one. Take your pick!
  • I used blueberry jam, and it was delicious. But I suspect some homemade raspberry jam would be divine. Or even Rhubarb, if that's the sort of thing you're into. 
  • Definitely let this cool before cutting/serving. It'll make a huge difference.  

In case you're wondering - those are my grandma's dishes. 

These didn't last long in our house :)

Next on the menu is Ham & Broccoli Rollups, so be sure to check back in a few days!