Butter Tart Squares

Butter Tart Squares

July 1: Canada Day

Visiting some of Highlander’s relatives in Canada is always a treat—literally—especially when they serve treats from his country of birth. They want to remind him of his roots and share cultural cuisine with us since we are foodies. One distinctive dessert from Canada is butter tarts, a pastry invented in the pioneer era. We transformed the traditional tarts into squares for a sweet stacked snack to celebrate Canada Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Robin Hood)

For the base crust

  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour

Directions

Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment or waxed paper, leaving a little overhang as the “handles” to lift the dessert out of the pan later. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the flour until it sticks together.

Butter Tarts Squares

Press into prepared pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Make the topping.

Butter Tart Squares

For the topping

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup corn syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the brown sugar. Mix in the corn syrup, eggs and vanilla.

Butter Tart Squares

Blend in the flour and baking powder. Sprinkle the raisins and chopped walnuts over the base crust. 

Butter Tart Squares

Pour the filling over the raisins and nuts. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes or until the filling is set. Remove from the oven and cool completely. Lift the dessert out of the pan using the parchment or waxed paper “handles”. Cut into 16 squares.

Butter Tart Squares

Notes

  • The raisins and walnuts are optional but we added them to the recipe. The raisins add a nice chewy texture and the walnuts counter the sweetness of this dessert.

No-Churn Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

July: National Ice Cream Month

Have you ever taken one of those personality quizzes based on your favorite flavor of ice cream? One such test, an “ice cream flavorology study”, was developed by Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, the neurological director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, Ltd., in Chicago, Illinois. National manufacturer Edy’s Grand Ice Cream commissioned him to determine how ice cream flavor preferences relate to people’s personalities.

Islander’s favorite flavor is butter pecan and Highlander likes chocolate (see our blog post recipe for no-churn chocolate ice cream). We read Dr. Hirsch’s amusing analysis of our personalities based on the ice cream flavors we chose and, while they do fit us, we do not feel bound to those descriptions, as we enjoy eating other flavors of ice cream, depending on our moods.

During National Ice Cream Month, have some fun and take the personality test. And while you’re at it, enjoy eating some homemade no-churn butter pecan (or other favorite flavor) ice cream from the recipe provided below. Stay cool!

Recipe

(Adapted from Noreen’s Kitchen)

Ingredients

  • 1 cups pecans (chips, pieces or half nuts), toasted
  • 2 cups heavy cream, whipped
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoon butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon maple extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon butter extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Directions

In a small pan, toast the pecans, being careful not to burn them. Let cool and set aside. Whip the cream until stiff peaks form. In a large bowl, pour the condensed milk.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Stir in the melted butter, maple syrup and extracts.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Add the salt. Fold in the whipped cream and toasted pecans and blend well. Pour mixture into a large loaf pan, cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer, scoop and enjoy!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Notes

  • National Ice Cream Day is also celebrated on the third Sunday of July.
  • Search our blog for other no-churn ice cream recipes.

No-Churn Chocolate Ice Cream

Chocolate Ice Cream

June 7: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day

Earlier this spring, we took a road trip to Brenham, Texas (about an hour-and-a-half’s drive northwest from where we currently live), with our Hawaii ex-patriate friends Pat and Phyllis S. from San Antonio. We wanted to see blue bonnets and the Blue Bell Creameries. We did see a few of the wildflower fields but, unfortunately, the ice cream factory tour was cancelled due to listeria. News crews were in front of the creamery ready to report about the recalls. 

Lately we have been experimenting with making ice cream at home. At least we know what ingredients are going into our recipe—no listeria hysteria! We do not have an ice cream maker and do not want to buy one. But the no-churn method of making ice cream seems to work just fine!

For a no-churn chocolate ice cream, we tried mixing cocoa powder and melted chocolate in the basic recipe. The colors varied from pale cocoa to muddy brown, depending on what was added. The tastes ranged from milk chocolate to intensely dark. The textures went from icy-chunky to smooth and creamy. All versions were delicious!

As the hot summer season approaches, stay cool and safe from listeria by trying a homemade no-churn chocolate ice cream recipe for National Chocolate Ice Cream Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from Nigella.com)

 Ingredients

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream, whipped
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder OR 3-4 ounces melted semi-sweet/bittersweet/unsweetened chocolate (we used Baker’s brand)
  • pinch of salt (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract OR ½ tablespoon of crème de cacao liqueur (optional)
  • chocolate syrup to drizzle on top (optional)

Directions

Whip the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine the condensed milk with the cocoa powder OR melted chocolate. Stir well. Add a pinch of salt (optional). Mix in the vanilla extract or liqueur (optional).

Chocolate Ice Cream

Fold the whipped cream into this mixture until smooth, being careful not to whip more air into it. Place in a loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for at least six hours or overnight. Remove from the freezer. Let stand for a few minutes and scoop into cones or dessert dishes. Drizzle with chocolate syrup (optional).

Chocolate Ice Cream

Notes

  • If using melted chocolate, let cool slighty before mixing with the condensed milk and whipped cream.
  • National Ice Cream Day is also celebrated on the third Sunday of July.
  • Search our blog for other no-churn ice cream and chocolate recipes.

Räksmörgås

(Swedish Shrimp Sandwich)

Swedish Shrimp Sandwich

May 10: National Shrimp Day

Islander used to work in a building across the street from an Ikea in Illinois. What a distraction it was to go to that Swedish furniture store (we bought a sofa sleeper, end tables, cabinets and shelving, benches and stools and a mirror from Ikea)!

Sometimes, Islander would take her lunch breaks at the Ikea cafeteria to sample some Swedish food, such as räksmörgås, an open-faced shrimp sandwich. It was light and refreshingly delicious.

Now that we currently live in South Texas, the closest Ikea is nearly three hours’ drive away—not too convenient to visit for browsing at furniture or eating at the café. So we make räksmörgås at home. These Swedish shrimp sandwiches are simple to make for a light lunch and in observance of National Shrimp Day. Smaklig måltid (bon appétit in Swedish)!

Recipe

(Adapted from Ikea)

Ingredients

  • Toasted bread (one per person)
  • Butter
  • Lettuce leaves
  • Boiled egg, shelled and sliced
  • Small frozen shrimps, thawed and patted dry with paper towels
  • 2-3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • lemon slices (optional garnish)
  • tomato wedges (optional garnish)

Directions

Toast the bread. Spread butter on one side. Place a lettuce leaf on top. Slice the eggs and layer it on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle the shrimps over the eggs.

Swedish Shrimp Sandwich

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Stir in the chopped dill. Carefully spread the mixture over the shrimp. Finish with dill on top. Garnish with lemon slices, tomato wedges and a sprig of dill (optional). Serve immediately.

Swedish Shrimp Sandwich

Notes

  • Variations of räksmörgås include adding mustard, thinly-sliced cucumbers, chopped chives, lemon garnish, tomato wedges and caviar.
  • Heavier breads, such as rye or pumpernickel, are recommended over the softer white varieties to be able to hold up the ingredients.
  • Search our site for other Swedish-inspired or shrimp recipes.

Brigadeiros

(Brazilian Chocolate Truffles)

Brigadeiros

May 2: National Truffle Day

We had a Brazilian classmate, Thaís C., in our Teaching English as a Second Language certification program. On “graduation day”, she brought in brigadeiros, her country’s version of chocolate truffles. The tray of treats was finished so quickly—and there were only four of us taking the intensive training course!

Brigadeiros were named after the rank of Brazilian Brigadier Eduardo Gomes (1896-1981), an air marshal and politician. These chewy chocolate truffles are very easy to make and consist of only four ingredients—sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter and sprinkles.

Thanks to Thaís for introducing us to brigadeiros and for sharing her recipe. Enjoy these Brazilian chocolate truffles on National Truffle Day.

Recipe

From Thaís C.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • chocolate sprinkles/jimmies

Directions

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the butter slowly. Add the condensed milk and cocoa powder, stirring constantly for about 10 minutes or until thickened. Be careful that the bottom of the pot does not burn. Transfer the mixture to a buttered bowl. Cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes or until easy to handle.

Brigadeiros

Butter or grease hands and roll mixture into one-inch balls (or use a buttered or greased scoop). Place on wax paper. Roll each ball into a bowl of chocolate sprinkles. Place into miniature cupcake or candy papers. Chill until ready to serve. Yield: Approximately 15 brigadeiros.

Brigadeiros

Notes

  • Brigadeiros may be coated in coconut flakes, chopped nuts or colorful nonpareils as well.
  • These Brazilian chocolate truffles look like the black mushroom truffles!
  • Search our blog for other Brazilian recipes. Bom apetite.

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.
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