HI Cookery is 5!

It’s HI Cookery’s fifth year blog-o-versary and Highlander and Islander are still here trying to cook our way through the calendar year. Since we began this foodie project in 2010, we have posted more than 525 recipes. Other noteworthy happenings since last year include the following:

We have moved again! Last year we lived in south Texas. Just four months ago, we moved slightly northeast—about 3.5 hours’ drive away—due to Highlander’s job. We miss our family and friends but we are still in the same big state and can visit each other. We are also adjusting to our new kitchen; we no longer have an island and our oven is smaller but the pantry space is good. Unfortunately, we do not have much natural lighting so it is more challenging to photograph our food. However, we like our new kitchen and hope that we can continue to cook for our blog and ourselves and host new friends in our dining room.

2014 kitchen

HI Cookery’s new kitchen (December 2014)

Islander joined the local cake club and culinary book club. She is still a member of the previous cake club and helps with their graphic design needs. The one she just joined only meets quarterly and is less formal but members visit cake club events all over the state and sometimes the nation. So she is able to see familiar and friendly faces at various sugar arts events in Texas. She also joined the culinary book club at our local library. Members meet monthly for a potluck and follow a food theme. Some of the recipes exchanged at the culinary book club meeting will be featured in future posts on our blog.

We are now a “Cottage Food Law” certified kitchen. Although we don’t sell baked goods, we sometimes participate in church bake sales and other benefits. Some organizations require that volunteer bakers and home cooks get a food safety training certificate if their state has a cottage food law. We think it is a good idea just to review the sanitation and food handling information so the food that we cook and serve is safe for everyone to eat and enjoy. Check Forrager, a cottage food community website, for more information about cottage food laws in the United States.

New theme menu on the menu. Navigate on the dropdown menu options above and notice that we have added a new page for “theme menus”. Throughout our fifth year of blogging, we will classify some recipes into themes, such as Star Wars, Halloween, ethnic, etc., to give readers a few ideas on what to prepare for their own parties. As listed on our “cook the calendar” page, there is always something to celebrate in life—so make it fun with food!

We may be slowing down—but HI Cookery is still around! And we hope to continue sharing recipes beyond our five-year milestone. As always, thanks for reading and visiting our blog. We appreciate your loyalty. God bless!

Tapadh leat! Mahalo! Thanks!

Highlander and Islander

Mini Meat (Forfar) Bridies

Meat Bridies April 8: National Empanada Day

Twa bridies, a plen ane an an ingin ane an a.

(Two meat pasties, a plain one and an onion one as well.)

~Scots Dundee Dialect

We have blogged before about empanadas, pierogis, turnovers and dumplings from different cultures. This particular post focuses on the Scottish savory version—a meat bridie.

We usually snack on meat bridies at the Scottish festivals that we attend across North America. Those portable pies are convenient and filling while roaming around the fairgrounds. Though they look like a casual cuisine, meat bridies are also served at weddings, as they are appropriately named for the “bride” (a word possibly derived from the Celtic Saint Brigid). Moreover, its horseshoe shape is considered lucky—especially if it is in the up or U position—and is symbolic of the woman’s womb (bridal fertility).

We also make and serve mini meat bridies to the brides and grooms we sponsor from our church during marriage preparation meetings with them. They appreciate the trivia of this traditional treat associated with the Scottish snack from Highlander’s heritage.

Make some mini meat bridies for bridal showers, teatime, picnics and National Empanada Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Chef James Martin/BBC)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 12 ounces lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 3 tablespoon beef stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2-3 packages frozen puff pastry, thawed (we used Pepperidge Farms brand)
  • 1 egg, beaten

 Directions

In a skillet, heat the oil and brown the onions with thyme leaves for about 2-3 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Mix in the mustard powder.

Meat Bridies

Stir in the beef stock and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the stovetop, drain any grease and allow the mixture to cool.

Meat Bridies

On a clean, lightly floured surface, unroll the thawed puff pastry sheets. Flatten to 1/4-inch to smoothen out the seam of the folds. Cut into 3-inch rounds. Flatten into a horseshoe shape (optional). In the middle of the pastry, place a spoonful of filling. Moisten the edges with a little water. Fold over and press the edges together. Use the tines of a fork to crimp and seal.

Meat Bridies

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet, leaving a few inches apart to allow the pastry to puff up and expand in the oven. Continue making the rest of the mini meat bridies. Beat the egg(s). Brush the tops of each meat bridie with the egg wash. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 20-30 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Carefully remove from the oven. Place on a platter and serve hot.

Meat Bridies  

Notes

  • Similar to the meat-and-potato-filled Cornish pasties, Forfar bridies are traditionally made with minced steak, with or without onions, encased in a shortcrust pastry, although flaky (puff) pastry is preferred nowadays. The original recipe uses raw meat before filling the dough, but we sauté our ground beef in seasonings to make sure the filling is cooked through, which saves baking time and prevents the pastry from overbrowning.
  • Some bakers mark the bridies with a hole before baking to indicate the filling—one hole for plain (meat only) and two holes for meat-and-onions; hence, the Scots Dundee dialect statement above.
  • Unbaked meat bridies may be frozen first, then baked at a later time.
  • The origins of meat bridies are uncertain. But one account is that they originated in Forfarshire (now Angus County) and are called Forfar bridies. Another story is that they were named after Margaret Bridie, also from Forfarshire (then Glamis, Scotland), who sold them at the Buttermarket in the 1850s.
  • J.M. Barrie, author of “Peter Pan”, mentioned Forfar bridies in “Sentimental Tommy”. He was born in Kirriemuir near Forfarshire.

Celery Soup

celery soup

March: National Celery Month

March 31: National Celery Day

The month of March is associated with the color green since the Emerald Isle’s patron saint, Patrick of Ireland, is honored on March 17.

This reminds us of when Islander used to work in retail at a bridal shop. She had to put tags on the new shipment of bridesmaids’ gowns in the trendiest colors of the time: aubergine and celadon. What exactly were those hues? Aubergine is French for eggplant and sounded more chic for a deep purple. So she figured that celadon meant celery since the color was close to that of the vegetable, too. Wrong. Celadon is a shade of green commonly used in Asian pottery. But Islander will remember the word association for celadon and celery.

That brings us to a celery soup recipe, which barely even cooks to the color of celadon! Even with the help of leeks as an ingredient, the white sour cream dilutes the whole green color of this dish. Although the color was disappointing, the soup was delicious.

Get some green gourmet going on and cook some celery soup during the month of March, National Celery Month, especially on the last day, March 31, National Celery Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 6-8 cups of water
  • ½ cup sour cream

Directions

Prepare the vegetables by chopping and slicing the leeks, onions, garlic and celery.

celery soup

In a large pot, slowly melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Add the leeks, onions and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until softened but not browned (about 10 minutes). Add the celery and sauté until softened (about 3 minutes). Add 6-8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for about 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

celery soup

Transfer the soup in batches to a blender. Puree until smooth. Return the puree to the pot and heat through. Stir in the sour cream and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve hot with garnishes of celery sticks and sprinkles of parsley flakes.

celery soup

Notes 

  • At her oft-mentioned friend Lisa L.’s wedding in Germany, as the maid of honor Islander wore a light green gown. Although there are subtle differences in the hue’s shade, this particular dress manufacturer labeled it in a more understandable color instead of celadon: sage.
  • We like our celery soup thicker so only added 6 instead of 8 cups of water. Add more water to make a thinner soup.

 

Sfinge di San Giuseppe

(Cream Puffs of St. Joseph)

Sfinge di San Giuseppe

March 19: Feast Day of St. Joseph

In our nearly 19 years of marriage (since 1996), we have moved five times (excluding the time we lived apart for a year when Islander took a temporary job back home in Hawaii while Highlander stayed in New Jersey for his job). We are aware of the legend of the St. Joseph statue to sell a house—and we do have such a statue. But we have not followed tradition by burying it upside down in the front lawn when we put our homes on the market. We just relied on God for His timing and His care whenever we moved.

St. Joseph is known as the patron saint of real estate and home sales. The earthly father of the Jesus was a good role model to the Christ Child, providing a happy and stable home life to Jesus and his wife Mary. We admire the virtues of St. Joseph and are honoring him on his feast day by making an Italian-style cream puff called Sfinge di San Giuseppe.

Recipe

(Adapted from Recipe Goldmine)

For the filling

  • 2 cups ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup chocolate, grated (we used mini chocolate chips)
  • 2 tablespoons pistachios, finely chopped

Directions

In a bowl, cream the ricotta cheese with the powdered sugar and cinnamon. Stir in the vanilla.

Sfinge di San Giuseppe

Mix in the grated chocolate or mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios. Cover and chill to thicken.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

For the cream puffs

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla

Directions

In a large pot, boil the water with the butter, sugar, lemon zest and salt. When the butter is melted, remove from heat. Add the flour and quickly stir until the mixture forms a ball and pulls away from the sides of the pot.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

Return to the stovetop on medium heat and beat in the eggs one at a time until well blended. Stir in the vanilla. Remove from heat and let the dough rest in the covered pot for 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with buttered parchment paper. Scoop a tablespoon of the dough onto the baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

For the topping

  • Powdered sugar
  • Maraschino cherries, drained

Directions

When ready to serve, slice each puff and sandwich the filling between it. Or spoon the filling over the top of each puff. Arrange on a platter and sprinkle powdered sugar over the puffs and top each with a maraschino cherry. Serve immediately so the puffs do not get soggy.

Sfinge de San Giuseppe

Notes

  • Various versions of the St. Joseph cream puff recipe are called sfinge/sfingi and zeppole/zeppola. Some deep fry the pastry balls/fritters, some are star-piped into circles, some are drizzled with chocolate and some have a custard-like cream filling piped inside.
  • Joseph has another feast day on May 1, which honors him as the patron saint of labor workers.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

March 17: Feast Day of St. Patrick

Highlander likes to eat oatmeal for breakfast to begin his workday at the top o’ the mornin’! And sometimes he can’t resist eating oatmeal cookies for a sweet snack to sustain him through the rest o’ the day. So especially in observance of St. Patrick’s Day, we used two Irish imported products to make Irish oatmeal cookies—McCann’s Irish Oatmeal and Kerrygold Butter. The recipe yields over three dozen cookies, which are enough to share with Highlander’s lucky co-workers! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

A wish that every day for you

will be happy from the start

and may you always have good luck

and a song within your heart.

~Irish Blessing

  

Recipe

(Adapted from McCann’s)

Ingredients

  • 1 ¼ cup (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 cups quick cooking oatmeal
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts, chipped

Directions

In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown and white sugars. Beat in the egg. Stir in the vanilla.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda and ground cinnamon. Gradually add this to the butter mixture. Blend well. Stir in by hand the oatmeal, raisins and walnuts.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

Scoop a tablespoon onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly with the ball of your hand. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: Approximately 3-4 dozen cookies.

Irish Oatmeal Cookies 

Notes

  • Highlander traced his ancestry to Ireland and is considered an Ulster-Scot. 
  • Search our blog for other Irish-inspired recipes for St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny Appleseed Cake

Johnny Appleseed Cake

March 11: Johnny Appleseed Day

In elementary school, we enjoyed “movie mornings” when we learned about legendary people of the American frontier like Johnny Appleseed. Formally known as John Chapman (September 26, 1774-March 18, 1845), he was an eccentrically-dressed man who was famous for planting apple trees and establishing orchards across the Midwest. While planting apple seeds, the New Church missionary was also planting seeds of his faith by living simply, touting the health benefits of his fruits, caring for animals and showing kindness wherever he traveled. Johnny Appleseed is also associated with this hymn:

“Oh, the Lord is good to me,

and so I thank the Lord for giving me the things I need,

the sun and the rain and the appleseed.

The Lord is good to me.

Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”

There are many tales about Johnny Appleseed as there are variations of the Johnny Appleseed cake. Some recipes are made from scratch using fresh-diced apples, while others use shortcut ingredients like canned apple pie filling or jarred applesauce. We chose the easiest one because 1) a child can participate in making this delightful dessert during a teachable moment and 2) we had a coupon for “buy a cake mix and get a can of pie filling for free”.

Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day and bake an easy Johnny Appleseed Cake.

Recipe

(Adapted from Mr. Food)

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix (may use sugar-free)
  • 1 can (21 ounces) apple pie filling (may use sugar-free)
  • 4 eggs (may use egg substitute)

Directions

Mist a 9×13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, apple pie filling and eggs. Mix until smooth.

Johnny Appleseed Cake

Pour the batter into the prepared ban. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, testing with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Slice into squares and serve with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon (optional) or enjoy plain with a cup of tea or coffee.

Johnny Appleseed Cake

Notes

Absinthe Cake

March 5: National Absinthe Day

As we were looking ahead to find green-colored recipes on the Internet to try for our upcoming St. Patrick’s Day festivities, we found a loaf cake made with “The Green Fairy”—also known as the alcohol Absinthe.

The legendary licorice/anise/fennel tasting spirit was a popular drink in Europe in the 18th century. The fluorescent green liquid’s strong flavor and aftereffects are believed to have inspired “creativity” in artists and writers like Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh and Oscar Wilde.

Absinthe developed a reputation for causing hallucinations and was thus banned in a few countries such as France and America, especially during the Prohibition years. However, the crazy claim has been exaggerated, only adding to the alcohol’s mystique. It was just as recent as 2007 that America lifted its ban on the purchase and consumption of Absinthe.

Now we are legally able to try a recipe for Absinthe cake, the glaze topping of which follows the traditional style of serving the drink: place a sugar cube on a special slotted Absinthe spoon over a glass filled with a shot of Absinthe and slowly pour ice water over the sugar cube to dissolve and sweeten the beverage. The glaze itself is a mixture of sugar and Absinthe. Overall, it is definitely an adult dessert! Though the cake is not green, its ingredient “The Green Fairy” can give the leprechaun some serious competition this month. Go crazy and bake a boozy cake containing Absinthe on National Absinthe Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from “The Sweet Life in Paris” by David Lebovitz)

For the absinthe cake

  • 1 ¼ teaspoon anise seeds, ground fine
  • 1 ¼ cup cake flour
  • ½ cup stoneground yellow cornmeal (see Notes)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¼ cup Absinthe
  • orange zest

For the absinthe glaze

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Absinthe

Directions

Grease a 9-inch loaf pan and line the bottom with wax or parchment paper. Set aside. Grind the anise seeds with a mortar and pestle or spice mill. Add the ground anise seeds to a bowl of cake flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Combine well.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs. In a small bowl, mix the milk and Absinthe. Stir in about a teaspoon of orange zest.

Beat the eggs into the butter mixture. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk mixture. Blend well but do not overbeat. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40 minutes, testing for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack over a foil-lined lipped pan to catch any glaze drips. Use a toothpick or skewer to poke several holes in the warm cake.

Make the glaze by mixing the sugar and Absinthe in a cup but do not let the sugar dissolve completely. Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake, letting it drizzle down the sides. Sprinkle additional orange zest on top (optional). Let cool completely. Slice and serve.

Notes

  • Cornmeal adds a bit of a crunchy texture to this cake. Substitute with ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of pistachio or almond meal, if preferred.
  • The green color from the Absinthe alcohol bakes out. So tint the batter with a tiny bit of green food coloring, if desired. Author David Lebovitz suggests adding chopped candied angelica (looks like green licorice sticks) to the batter before baking.
  • Learn more about Absinthe from Wikipedia

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