06 June


Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

June 21: Summer Solstice/Midsummer

We blogged before about Mexican wedding cookies (also known as Danish wedding cookies, Russian tea cakes and Hawaiian snow balls). A similar sweet is the Swedish heirloom cookie, which includes walnuts instead of pecans. These beloved wedding cookies are rife with symbolism—white for bridal purity, sugar for a sweet married life and nuts for fertility.

Although these cookies are popular during the holiday season (Christmas and the winter solstice), we make Swedish heirloom cookies for the midsummer season (midsommar in Swedish) and the summer solstice. We also serve them to our June brides and the engaged couples we sponsor through our church’s marriage preparation program.

Coincidentally, the famous “Wedding March” by Felix Mendelssohn was composed for William Shakespeare’s play titled “Midsummer Night’s Dream”! Summer seems to be an ideal time for weddings. So make these simple and sweet Swedish heirloom cookies for summer weddings and summer solstice celebrations.

Recipe

(Adapted from Saveur)

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup walnuts, chopped
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla
  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Directions

In a small skillet, toast the walnuts. Set aside to cool. In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla.

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Add the flour and salt and blend well. Mix in the walnuts. Form into a cookie dough. Roll into balls between ¾-1 inch.

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Place on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet about two inches apart to allow the cookies to expand. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar. Cool completely and place in mini cupcake papers.

Swedish Heirloom Cookies

Notes

Swedish Visiting Cake

Swedish Visiting Cake

June 21: Midsommar/Summer Solstice

We used to attend the Swedish Day Midsommar Festival when we lived in Illinois. Hailed as the Midwest’s oldest and largest “midsommar” (midsummer) festival, the city of Geneva, where it took place, was less than a half-hour drive from our home. We enjoyed the Swedish cultural costumes and performances, the colorful maypole-raising ritual and, of course, the smörgåsbord of Swedish foods!

To celebrate the summer solstice—the longest day of the year—we baked a simple “Swedish Visiting Cake”. Reminiscent of other European almond cakes, like the German Magdalenenstriezeln (for St. Mary Magdalene), Greek Vasilopita (for St. Basil) and Spanish Tarta de Santiago (for St. James), this “Swedish Visiting Cake” could be made for St. John, whose feast day on June 24 is also associated with midsummer.

This is a quick and easy cake to make, especially when visitors are arriving at short notice (hence, the name of “visiting cake”). Serve this Swedish sweet with coffee and tea to show hospitality to guests—or to welcome the summer season.

Recipe

(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan)

Ingredients

  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (we used vanilla paste)
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds (we used slivered almonds)

Directions

Grate a lemon. In a large bowl, mix the sugar with the freshly grated lemon zest. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt. Mix well. Meanwhile, melt the butter and cool slightly.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Mix in the flour. Pour the melted butter into the flour mixture and blend until the batter is smooth.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Pour into a greased pie pan or 9-inch cake pan. Sprinkle with almonds and a little granulated sugar on top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until golden brown (the edges will be lightly crisp but the middle should be soft and moist). Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly before loosening the sides with a knife or spatula. Slice into wedges. Serve warm or cool.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Notes

  • “Swedish Visiting Cake” is traditionally baked in a cast iron pan.

Chicken Oreganata

Chicken Oreganata

June 10: Herbs and Spices Day

Breaded chicken breasts are sometimes boring. So we like to spice (and herb) them up with oregano, mint, salt and pepper and turn them into a simple yet savory, tender and aromatic dish. The addition of tomatoes makes this meal moist and more flavorful. Cbicken Oreganata is our choice for observing Herbs and Spices Day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Healthy Home Cooking by the Editors of Prevention Magazine)

Ingredients

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, flattened
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried mint
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup dry breadcrumbs, unseasoned
  • 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3-4 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • olive oil

Directions

Line a baking dish with foil and mist with cooking spray. Set aside. In a lipped pan, combine the lemon juice with minced garlic. Toss the chicken in this mixture and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Chicken Oreganata

In a small bowl, mix together the oregano, mint, salt and pepper.

Chicken Oreganata

Combine half of this herb and spice mixture with the breadcrumbs and cheese. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned breadcrumbs and place in the prepared baking dish. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and scatter them around the chicken.

Chicken Oreganata

Sprinkle the remaining herb and spice mixture over the chicken and tomatoes. Drizzle some olive oil over them. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the tomatoes are soft and juicy. Transfer the chicken to a serving plate and arrange the tomatoes around it. Pour any pan juices over the chicken. Serve hot with rice.

Chicken Oreganata

Notes

  • Thanks to Highlander’s Mum for gifting us with the cookbook from which we used the recipe for Chicken Oreganata.
  • Search our blog for other chicken recipes.

Rocky Road Cake Truffles

Rocky Road Cake Truffles

June 2: National Rocky Road Day

Whenever we level off the rounded tops of our chocolate cakes or have leftovers, we never waste what we have. We just transform them into truffles! Cake truffles sound much more elegant than cake balls. Put them on a stick and they become cake pops—perfectly playful! Place them in chocolate brown paper candy cups and they become truffles—sweetly sophisticated!

For this particular post, we made them with a marshmallow center, topped them with toasted walnuts and drizzled white chocolate as a color contrast for a Rocky Road flavor. Enjoy an elegant treat and try these truffles (cake balls or cake pops) for National Rocky Road Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Leftover chocolate cake
  • Chocolate frosting
  • Mini marshmallows
  • 1 bag chocolate candy melts
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1-2 squares (ounces) white chocolate, melted

Directions

In a large bowl, crumble the cake into fine crumbs. Add half a cup of frosting a little at a time until the crumbs stick together (use more or less frosting, depending on how much cake is left over). Roll and flatten the “dough” and place a mini marshmallow in the center. Make into balls no bigger than 1 ½ inches round. Freeze till firm.

Rocky Road Cake Truffles

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Stick a skewer or lollipop stick on one end of the cake ball. Work quickly to coat it evenly in the melted chocolate. Place on a cold tray covered with waxed paper, smoothing chocolate over the hole made by the skewer or lollipop stick. Sprinkle the nuts on top before the chocolate sets. Continue dipping each cake ball into the chocolate and sprinkling nuts. Refrigerate until the chocolate shell has hardened. Drizzle white chocolate over the truffles. Refrigerate until the white chocolate drizzles have set. Place in individual paper candy cups/mini cupcake liners. Arrange on an elegant platter and serve.

Rocky Road Cake Truffles 

Notes

  • We prefer to use homemade chocolate frosting instead of the one from a can for better flavor. We use the latter if we are pressed for time in preparing Rocky Road cake truffles for a party.
  • Search our blog for chocolate cake and chocolate frosting recipes to make these Rocky Road cake truffles.

Rocky Road Cake

Rocky Road Cake

June 2: National Rocky Road Day

On a hot, summer day, eating Rocky Road ice cream is a cool choice. But lactose intolerant Islander feels it is “safer on her system” to eat a slice of Rocky Road cake because the dairy content in it is less than in Rocky Road ice cream (although there is a little bit of cream used in the chocolate frosting). The cake is also less likely to melt when sharing it with others at summer socials.

Rocky Road cake is easy to make, and the textured topping give this decadent dessert a “wow factor”. Instead of the ice cream flavor, try Rocky Road cake to celebrate the summer season as well as observe National Rocky Road Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

Directions

Bake the chocolate fudge sheet cake in a 9×13” pan. Cool completely. Make the chocolate frosting by melting 10 ounces of chocolate squares, stirring in a half cup of heavy whipping cream and incorporating 1 ½ cups of sliced butter pieces until smooth and well blended.

Rocky Road Cake

Allow the frosting to cool for a spreadable consistency (several hours at room temperature or 15-30 minutes in the refrigerator). Stir before spreading on the top and sides of the cake. Pipe decorative shell borders on the top and bottom edges of the cake (optional).

Rocky Road Cake

Sprinkle mini marshmallows randomly on top of the cake. Chop the walnuts roughly and toast them in a small skillet over medium high heat for about five minutes, being careful not to burn the nuts. Cool and scatter them on top of the cake, filling in the gaps between the marshmallows.

Rocky Road Cake

Melt chocolate candy wafers/chips. Put the melted chocolate in a piping bag with a small round tip (or fill a plastic zipper top bag and cut a small hole). Drizzle over the top of the cake. Let set. Slice the cake into 24 squares and serve.

Rocky Road Cake

Notes

Lemon Chicken

Lemon Chicken

June: National Lemon Month

Many cultures have their own version of boneless meat, which is coated in seasoned flour/breadcrumbs/batter, then fried or baked, and accompanied with gravy or sauce. Lemon chicken from L&L Drive-Inn, a popular chain restaurant in Hawaii and in select spots around the world, is one of Islander and her brother’s favorite deep fried chicken dishes with a tangy sweet lemon sauce.

During our undergraduate years in Hawaii, we would walk down our hilly campus to the L&L restaurant and treat ourselves to a cheap lunch or dinner when we did not want to eat cafeteria food or cook in our dorm kitchen. When we first ordered the lemon chicken, it looked like a giant, sliced chicken nugget with a sunny yellow dipping sauce on the side. As simple as the entrée was, we just loved the lemon sauce! It really is what makes the chicken a delicious dish.

For National Lemon Month, make lemon chicken for a local-style plate lunch.

Recipe

(Adapted from L&L Drive-Inn via the Star-Bulletin Archives)

For the chicken

  • 2 pounds boneless chicken (we used thinly sliced chicken breast meat)
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon chicken-flavored bouillon (we crushed a bouillon cube)
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions

Pound the chicken meat to ¼-inch thickness or cut into bite-sized pieces. Set aside and make the marinade. In a large glass bowl, mix together the water and vegetable oil. Blend in the cornstarch and flour. Stir in the egg. Season with salt, bouillon, white pepper and garlic powder.

Lemon Chicken

Mix to make a smooth batter. Coat the chicken in the marinade and leave for at least two hours. Deep fry the chicken in 350-degree oil until golden brown (5 minutes). Drain on paper towels. Keep warm.

Lemon Chicken

For the lemon sauce

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white vinegar (we used cane sugar vinegar)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • small piece of ginger, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract
  • ½ teaspoon of yellow food coloring
  • slices of lemon

Directions

In a measuring cup, make a slurry by dissolving the cornstarch in lemon juice. Set aside. In a saucepan, combine the water, vinegar and sugar. Bring to a boil.

Lemon Chicken

Add the ginger, lemon extract and a few slices of lemon. Tint with yellow food coloring. Slowly stir in the cornstarch-lemon juice mixture until thickened and smooth. Discard the ginger. Serve the sauce on the side with the lemon chicken.

Lemon Chicken

Notes

  • The lemon sauce may be made ahead of time and re-heated. Garnish with fresh lemon slices.
  • This lemon chicken is a Chinese-influenced recipe. There are other lemon chicken recipes inspired by international ingredients.
  • Serve L&L Drive-Inn lemon chicken with scoops of rice and macaroni salad. Onolicious!
  • For another fruit-flavored sauce with chicken, try the recipe for honey orange glazed chicken listed in our September archives (National Chicken Month).
  • Love lemons? Search our blog for more lemon recipes.

Ice Cream Soda

Ice Cream Soda

June 30: National Ice Cream Soda Day

Cool off during the hot summer season with something fun, frosty and fizzy—an old-fashioned ice cream soda (also called an ice cream float). Highlander ate it as a youngster and wanted Islander to try this traditional summertime treat. Until recently, because of her lactose intolerance, she was unable to enjoy desserts with dairy. But after discovering a lactose-free ice cream at the grocery store, Highlander now can prepare an ice cream soda for his wife. Making it at home is just as sweet and simple and quicker and cheaper than going to an ice cream parlor or shop.

Try this retro recipe for an old-fashioned ice cream soda for summertime and on National Ice Cream Soda Day.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2-3 scoops vanilla ice cream (we used Breyer’s brand)
  • 7Up (or carbonated/soda water)
  • whipped cream (we used Cool Whip brand)
  • maraschino cherry

Directions

In a tall chilled glass, scoop some vanilla ice cream. Fill with 7Up until foam floats to the top of the glass. Alternatively, add another scoop of ice cream on top of the foam. Swirl whipped cream on top and add a maraschino cherry (optional). Insert a straw and enjoy immediately.

Ice Cream Soda

Notes

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