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Monday, September 26, 2016

Cookie Bowls for Ice Cream


Beautiful, golden-brown, crisp and delicious cookie bowls will bring your holiday or family entertaining to a new level.   The crunchy Cookie Bowls hold a generous scoop of your favourite ice cream.  Serve with fresh fruit, ice cream sauces and whipped cream for a delectable finish to any meal. 

Apparently, Canadian Thanksgiving is exactly two weeks from today.  We Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October.  That means I'd better "shake a leg" and get some things started in the kitchen.  You never know how many will be feasting at the table at Thanksgiving.  

I was leafing through one of the cookbooks I'd pilfered from my mother's collection and ran across this recipe for Cookie Bowls.  It's very similar to fortune cookie dough but takes a whole egg instead of just the egg white.  The recipe is supposed to make 10 bowls but they would be the size of an egg cup.  Instead I made 6 bowls from each batch, and each will hold a nice sized scoop of ice cream with your choice of toppings.  They eventually turned out beautiful and crisp but it was certainly a learning experience for me, ha, ha. I made three batches.  The first batch wasn't fit, ha.  They burned and crumbled and some weren't crisp.  The second batch is passible and will be used.  The third batch were just right.  I have 12 very useable bowls ready for one of our Thanksgiving desserts.  If you decide to make these bowls you will be pleased with the outcome, but I warn you to start early so you will have time to perfect the art of making cookie bowls.  If some of your bowls don't turn out or break, don't throw them out.  Crush them up and use the pieces and crumbs for a topping on your ice cream.  

These Cookie Bowls would also make the perfect holders for pudding and mousse.  Or even better, ice cream, pudding and mousse.  


Cookie Bowls
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a cookie sheet or preferably line the cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat.  The cookies come off very cleanly from the silicone mat.  Chose 2 drinking glasses or cups to use as moulds (molds).

In a small mixing bowl whisk egg and sugar together.  Add the flour, butter, vanilla and salt.  Whisk all together so there are no lumps. 

Spread batter into 6, thin, 5-inch cookies on prepared cookie sheet.  Use 1½ tablespoons for each cookie.  Use a small off-set spatula to help spread the batter.  Bake no more than two cookies at a time. 

Bake the cookies in preheated oven for 5 minutes, rotate pan and bake an additional 4 or 5 minutes until golden brown on the edges.  Immediately remove cookies from oven.  Using a larger off-set spatula or turner remove cookies from pan and quickly mold cookies over a cup or glass to form bowls.  If the second cookie becomes too hard before it is shaped, place the pan back into the oven for a few minutes. 

The cookie bowls take only a minute or so to cool down enough to remove from the over turned cup or glass.  Place them on a cooling rack or kitchen towel to continue cooling completely.

Fill the bowls with ice cream, sundae syrup and whipped cream, etc. 

Makes 6 cookie bowls.  



In a small mixing bowl whisk egg and sugar together.  Add the flour, melted butter, vanilla and salt.  Whisk all together so there are no lumps.  
 
Use 1½ tablespoons batter for each cookie.  Spread out into a 5-inch circle.  The cookie will be very thin.  I tried making the first batch on a greased cookie sheet.  They did not turn out good at all.  So then I tried making them on parchment.  They turned out much better but the parchment paper wrinkled and left wrinkle marks on the finished cookie.  Then I remembered I had a silicone baking mat.  That worked perfectly.  The cookies baked smoothly with no wrinkle marks.  Bake no more than 2 cookies at a time.

Bake the cookies 5 minutes in 325 degree oven.  Turn the cookie sheet and bake an additional 4-5 minutes until golden brown on the edges. Once the cookies are baked remove them from the oven immediately but do not cool.  Lift the cookies off the hot pan one at a time.

Place each hot cookie over an upturned cup or glass.  Gently mould the cookie over the glass until you have a bowl shape.  Repeat with second cookie on the other glass.  I found that the second cookie was much harder to mould so I let it stay on the cookie sheet and let it sit in the oven with the door opened while I was moulding the first cookie.  The cookies are very hot so you may have to use a clean tea towel to protect your hand.

The cookies will not completely cover the glass but will flare out from the mould.

Let the two cookies cool for a few minutes before removing them from the upturned glasses.

The cookie bowls will retain their shape once they are cooled.  These two cookie bowls were baked on the silicone mat.  You can see how smooth they are.


You can see the wrinkles in the two cookie bowls at the top and right side of the picture.  These were baked on parchment paper.  


Beautiful, golden-brown, crisp and delicious cookie bowl waiting for a scoop of your favourite ice cream. 


I filled my cookie bowl with vanilla ice cream and topped it with chocolate and butterscotch sauces, chopped strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream.  


Eat the ice cream, eat the bowl.
Crunchy and light Cookie Bowls for your next family gathering.
 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Date Cream Pie with Orange Whipped Cream


Date Cream Pie with Orange Whipped Cream is a luscious cream pie filled with sweet date pieces and smothered with a delectable orange flavoured whipped cream topping.  Date lovers will sing your praises when you place this on the dinner table.

I was never a great date lover as a child but the dried fruit eventually made its way into my "liked" category of foods. (That's a long list by now!)  Mom often made Date Pudding and Aunt Edith served them on crackers with peanut butter and of course there was the much beloved Date Crumbles  that every mother and grandmother made on a regular basis.  Yes, dates worked their way into my favourites so quietly I didn't even know I liked them until I did!

I never thought of putting dates in a pie until I was reading one of my favourite cookbooks "Homemakers’ Cookbook and Guide to Nutrition" and there was a recipe for Cream Pie with a option to add dates.  That caught my attention and I couldn't get that pie out of my mind.  I marked the page with a sticky note and eventually got back to it last week.  So glad I did. 

I made up the pie crust and filling on Friday and topped it with the whipped cream on Saturday.  We ate the whole pie in less than 24 hours! And by "we" I mean Don and I!  Yes, we licked up that pie like two ravenous wolves who hadn't seen food in weeks and went back wishing there was more.  What a delicious pie it made!  Who would have thought dates could be so luscious in a pie.  I'll be making this pie again.  Soon.  Very soon. 

I was a little wary about the small amount of sugar in the cream filling--only one quarter cup, which is miniscule in a dessert but I decided I'd stick with the main ingredients of the recipe the first time around.  I made the right decision because the dates furnished more than enough sweetness to the filling.  I did add a tablespoon of butter to the filling for a little more richness.  The original recipe topped the pie with meringue but I thought a lovely topping of whipped cream would be more to my liking.  

The pie should be eaten within 3 days because the cream will start to get weepy the longer it sits.  But I don't think you'll have any trouble with this pie sitting around getting stale!


Date Cream Pie
2 cups hot milk
3½ tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
1½ teaspoon grated orange rind, optional
1 cup diced dates
1 9-inch baked pie crust

Orange Whipped Cream
1 cup chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon grated orange rind

Mix the cornstarch, sugar and salt together in a medium size sauce pan.  I used a non-stick pot which works very well with custards.  Add the hot milk slowly while stirring.  Place over medium low heat and stir and cook until thickened and bubbles are breaking the surface. 

Beat the egg yolks and slowly pour a little of the hot milk mixture over the yolks while stirring so the eggs will not cook.  This is called tempering the eggs.  Pour the tempered eggs back into the hot milk mixture and combine well.  Return pot to the stove and cook a minute or two to make sure the eggs are fully cooked.  Try to keep the heat low so the mixture does not boil.

Turn heat off and add the vanilla and butter.  Stir through.  Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any little lumps or cooked egg.  Once the mixture has been strained stir in the orange rind, if using.  Fold in the dates.  Because the mixture is hot the dates will start to break down if stirred too vigorously. 

Cool the filling 5 minutes and then pour into baked pie crust.  Smooth top and cover with plastic wrap.  Lay the wrap on top of the filling to avoid creating a skin on the custard.  (If you do not want to use plastic wrap, parchment paper will make a good substitute as long as it covers the surface of the filling.)

Refrigerate the pie until it is well chilled, about 4 hours or overnight.  Top with Orange Whipped Cream before serving. 

Orange Whipped Cream:   Pour the cream in mixer bowl, add icing sugar, vanilla and orange rind.  Beat on high speed until medium stiff peaks are formed.  Pile onto the top of the pie and swirl to the edges.  A little orange rind may be sprinkled on top for decoration.   The pie can be served immediately or can be refrigerated until ready to serve.

Makes 6-8 servings.



Before you start to make your pie filling, make the pie crust and bake it.  There are two pie crusts on this blog, Tender Pastry and Aunt Amy's No Fail Pie Crust or you can use your favourite recipe or even a store bought crust (if you must).

Make the cream pie filling.  Mix the sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a medium size pot.  Add the hot milk and stir making sure there are no lumps.  Cook and stir over medium heat until bubbles break the surface and the mixture becomes thick.  

Temper the egg yolks by pouring a little of the hot filling into the beaten yolks.  Stir together and pour the eggs back into the pot.  Place the pot back on the burner and let cook a few minutes but don't let the mixture boil.  You don't want to scramble the eggs! Remove from heat and add the butter and vanilla.  

Strain the pudding through a sieve.  As you may be able to see there were a few little lumps and bits of cooked egg that was strained out of the mixture.

If you will be using the orange rind add it now and stir through the hot mixture.  Then fold in the dates.  You don't want mushy dates so go gently into the pudding with your spoon.

Pour the date filling into the baked pie crust and smooth out the top.  Place plastic wrap or parchment paper over the filling and refrigerate until well chilled, about 4 hours.  I left mine overnight.  

When ready to serve whip the cream with orange rind, powdered sugar and vanilla.  Whip to a medium firm peak. 

Pile the cream onto the chilled filling.

Swirl the cream over the top of the pie to the edges and if you want you can sprinkle a little grated orange rind over the cream.

Date Cream Pie with Orange Whipped Cream topping sitting in a baked-to-perfection homemade pie crust.  I had to include this picture because the crust looks so scrummy!

First cut.  Don got that piece.

My piece!  And so began the swift demise of the delectable Date Cream Pie. The picture is a bit blurry.  I think I smeared cream on the camera lense.
 
Calling all date lovers. . . you won't be disappointed!



Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie





Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie is a fairly easy dish to make.  It has several steps but it comes together quickly once the potatoes and gravy have been made.  A full meal with vegetarian burger, vegetables, gravy and mashed potatoes can be ready and on the table in about one hour.  Your family will love this delicious meal, especially on a chilly fall or winter day.  The casserole can also be made one day, refrigerated and baked the next day.  


I never grew up eating Shepherd's Pie.  I don't think dad would have liked it.  He didn't like soup with everything mixed together so I'm guessing Shepherd's Pie wouldn't have been to his liking, either.  But I like Shepherd's Pie.  All that yummy mashed potatoes, gravy and vegetables all in one bite.  Oh, yes!  Good stuff!  It's a one meal dish but you can serve it with a salad or a green vegetable to round everything out, if you wish.  

Of course real meat shepherd's pie is made with mutton (sheep) but in my kitchen I like to keep the sheep in the pasture. So technically, it's not a Shepherd's Pie but don't let that stand in your way.  I use Yves Ground Round to make this pie but any brand will do as long as it is about 2 cups worth of veggie burger crumbles.  I actually used the Italian flavour (that's all I had at the time) and it was very tasty.    If you LOVE mashed potatoes use the higher amount of potatoes.  And if you LOVE gravy make 2 recipes and serve lots with your meal.  


Vegetarian Shepherd's Pie

Potato Topping:
2½-3 pounds potatoes (8-10 medium potatoes), peeled and boiled in lightly salted water until fork tender
2 or 3 tablespoons butter
½ - ¾ cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Secret ingredient: sour cream, optional 


Filling:
1 package Yves Ground Round or 1 Can Vegetarian Burger or 2 cups of your favourite veggie burger crumbles
½ cup diced onions
2 tablespoons oil
1½ recipe Brown Onion Gravy or 3 cups favourite gravy
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, corn, green beans, carrots, etc.), slightly undercooked to package directions OR use 3 cups leftover vegetables

Paprika, optional


Lightly grease or pan spray an 8x10-inch baking or casserole dish. It should hold about 2 litres/quarts.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees a few minutes before you are ready to bake the Shepherd's Pie.

Make gravy and slightly undercook the vegetables and set both aside.

Boil potatoes, drain and mash with butter and milk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Use the smaller amount of milk if you like a drier potato.  If you wish you can add the secret ingredient to the potatoes: a good dollop of sour cream.  The sour cream lifts the potatoes from the ordinary ho-hum to "these-taste-great" potatoes

While the potatoes are boiling start the filling.  In a large frying pan fry the onions in the oil until just starting to brown.  Add the veggie burger crumbles and stir until heated through.  Add the vegetables and gravy.  Start with about 2 cups of gravy, and add more if needed, until the mixture becomes somewhat loose but not runny.  Save any remaining gravy to serve with the Shepherd's Pie.  Some people like more gravy served at the table.

Pour the filling into the prepared baking dish.   Top with the mashed potatoes by spooning the potatoes over the filling and carefully spreading out over the top.  You may make a fancy design or pull the spoon up from the potatoes to make little potato peaks.  Sprinkle lightly with paprika, if you wish.  (At this point you may refrigerate the casserole and bake the following day.  Just add a few more minutes to the baking time.)

Bake 30 minutes or until bubbling hot. Let sit 5 minutes before serving.  Don't burn your tongue. Remember the filling will be very hot as it is insulated by the mashed potatoes. 

Serve the Shepherd's Pie with a green salad or steamed broccoli or just eat it as a full meal.   If you have gravy left, heat it and place on the table for anyone wanting extra to pour over their meal.

Makes 6-8 servings.  

Make the gravy, boil the potatoes and lightly cook the vegetables.


When the potatoes are cooked mash them with the milk and butter.  You may want to add the secret ingredient of a dollop of sour cream.

My favourite potato mashers.  The one on the left with the light coloured handle has been in my kitchen since I was married 38 years ago.  The newer one on the right was a gift from Vicki.  She knew I was searching for a new potato masher for fear the old one would break.  If you don't have one of these search until you find one... THE BEST POTATO MASHER, EVER! (In my opinion.)


While the potatoes are boiling, start the filling.  Cook the onions in the oil.  Add the veggie burger crumbles and stir until heated through.  Add the vegetables and gravy.  Add just enough gravy to make a loose mixture.  Save any remaining gravy to serve at the table.


The filling should be loose but not sloppy or overly runny.


Place the filling in the prepared baking or casserole dish.

Carefully spread the mashed potatoes over the top.  I used the back of the spoon to pull the potatoes up in small peaks. 

You may sprinkle the top with paprika, if you wish.


Bake 30 minutes in preheated 350 degree oven, until hot and bubbling.

Let sit 5 minutes before serving.

Hot from the oven! Don't burn your tongue.  Remember, the potato topping makes the perfect insulation for that bubbling hot filling.

Ready to dig in!


Shepherd's Pie is the perfect meal for a chilly Fall day.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Macaroni with Cheesy Mushroom Sauce


Macaroni baked in a cheesy mushroom sauce is a tasty and satisfying meal.  A delicious crumb topping makes each mouthful a taste of pure comfort.  And, did I mention, there are onions in this dish.  How much better can it get? 

Macaroni and Cheese has to be my Number One comfort food.  I just adore the stuff.   My all time favourite is Good Old Macaroni and Cheese but I also enjoy many other varieties and have several on this blog as you can see here, here, here and even a vegan version here!  Yes, I LOVE Macaroni and Cheese so much that here I go again with another recipe.  This one comes from Company's Coming Meatless Cooking by Jean ParĂ©.  The book is out of print now but you can still buy used copies online. 

I acquired my copy of the book after my Aunt Edith's funeral. The family was going through her things and this book was among her possessions.  I can't remember if I asked for it or they just gave it to me but I was pleased to have the book because I wanted something to remember my dear aunt.  

Aunt Edith was my mother's sister and I loved her to pieces, especially as a child.  She is one of the few people who ever babysat my sister and me when we were young.   She was a gentle person and never raised her voice.  She would sing and laugh and read us stories.  She made the most unusual snacks out of  rye crisp crakers spread with peanut butter and sliced dates.  To this day I can't look at a package of rye crackers without thinking of her.  I also never use the Company's Coming Meatless Cooking book without thinking of her.  

Here is the recipe for Macaroni with Cheesy Mushroom Sauce from Aunt Edith's cookbook. 



Macaroni with Cheesy Mushroom Sauce
1½ cups elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon butter or oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 can mushroom soup
⅔ cup milk
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pinch pepper
2 cups grated medium or old (sharp) cheddar cheese

Topping
2 tablespoons butter, melted
½ cup dry bread crumbs
¼ cup grated medium or old (sharp) cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease or pan spray a 6 cup casserole or baking dish. 

Cook the macaroni according to package directions in lightly salted water.  Drain and return to pot. 

While macaroni is cooking, in a medium or large frying pan, cook onions in butter until soft but not browned.  Stir in the soup, milk, salt, pepper and cheese.   Mix together until cheese is melted. 

Pour the cheese sauce into the cooked and drained macaroni and mix until all ingredients are combined.  Pour into the prepared baking dish.

Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the top of the macaroni.  Bake, uncovered, 30-40 minutes until top is browned and macaroni is bubbling hot.  Let sit about 5 minutes before serving. 

Makes about 6 servings.




Boil the macaroni in lightly salted water according to package directions.  Drain the macaroni and keep hot.

While the macaroni is cooking, cook the onions and make the sauce by combining cooked onions, mushroom soup, milk, salt, pepper and cheese together.

Mix the sauce through the drained macaroni.

Place the macaroni and sauce into a prepared casserole or baking dish.  Sprinkle the crumb topping over the surface of the casserole.

To make the crumb topping, melt the butter, add the bread crumbs and mix, then add the cheese and mix together.  Sprinkle over the macaroni casserole.

Bake the Macaroni with Cheesy Mushroom Sauce in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes until bubbling and golden brown on top.

Let sit 5 minutes before serving. 

Delicious for dinner or supper.