Smoky Almond Bread

November 17: National Homemade Bread Day

A bread machine was one of the first appliances we bought as newlyweds with our wedding gift money. This favorite kitchen “toy” allowed us to indulge in homemade bread once in a while without too much work. And it made our tiny one-bedroom apartment smell like a bakery! More than two decades—and five homes and moves later (so far)—we still use that bread machine, along with an old cookbook that provided a variety of recipes for us to try over the years. As Highlander had an extra snack pack of smoky almonds, he decided to use them in one of the recipes in the book. Making smoky almond bread in our bread machine is an easy way to celebrate National Homemade Bread Day.

Recipe

(Adapted from More Electric Bread)

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup water, lukewarm
  • 2 1/3 cups white bread flour
  • 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • ½ cup smoked almonds, crushed or chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 teaspoon yeast (fast rise) OR 1 ¾ teaspoon yeast (active dry)

Directions

In the well of the bread machine, place the water, flour, sugar and salt.

Add the butter, almonds, extract and yeast.

Next add the liquid smoke. Place the well into the bread machine. Set it for regular size loaf and medium crust setting. Press start and allow the machine to knead, rise and bake the bread. When the cycle is done, carefully remove the hot well from the machine. Take the bread out of the well. Allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice and serve fresh or toasted with butter.

Empire Biscuits

November 16: Feast Day of St. Margaret of Scotland

Highlander’s fellow clanswoman, Margaret G., won a shortbread-baking contest at one of the Highland games. Her recipe is versatile so we adapted it into empire biscuits in honor of two other strong Scottish women—the fictitious Princess Merida of the Disney Empire and a real saint, Queen Margaret of Wessex /Scotland.

Empire biscuits are a favorite of Princess Merida’s naughty young triplet brothers that they are seen in the movie trying to steal a plate of them any chance they get. This comic relief is part of the serious story line about a “Brave” young royal who is determined to “choose her own fate”.

Another strong Scottish woman was Queen Margaret. A very pious woman, she followed Christ’s examples of helping the poor and encouraging everyone to pray. She was the mother of eight children (six sons and two daughters), three of whom became kings of Scotland and one became Queen Consort of England. She raised them to become “just and holy rulers”.

Empire biscuits are basically traditional Scottish shortbread cookies with icing crowned with a colorful red cherry in the middle. They resemble tiny tam o’shanters (Scottish caps). As we have mentioned two royal ladies above, Princess Merida and St./Queen Margaret, we are also providing two types of empire biscuits—one as a mound shape (like the ones in the Disney movie) and the other as a sandwich cookie (like the ones sold at Highland games nowadays).

Thanks to our fellow clanswoman, also named Margaret, for sharing her award-winning shortbread cookie recipe so we could make empire biscuits for the Feast Day of St. Margaret of Scotland. 

Recipe

(Adapted from Margaret G.)

For the shortbread biscuits

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup of sugar (super fine is best), plus extra for sprinkling on top
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon cream

For the glaze and garnish

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2+ teaspoons water
  • glace cherries

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter. Add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in flour a cup at a time. Add egg yolk and cream. Mix well.

Scoop a mound of dough and drop them on a lightly greased cookie sheet about two-inches apart. Bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 22-25 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven. Cool completely.

While the biscuits are cooling, prepare the glaze by mixing the powdered sugar with the almond extract and water. Add a little more water if the glaze is too thick. Add a little more powdered sugar if the glaze is too thin and runny. Dip the top of each biscuit into the glaze. Top with a cherry before the glaze sets.

For the sandwich-style cookies

Roll out the dough to ¼ inch thickness and cut with round cookie cutters. Place on greased baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees F for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Spread jam (cherry, strawberry or raspberry) between two cookies and press together into a sandwich. Frost the tops with the white glaze. Top with a cherry before the glaze sets.

NOTES 

  • Do not overwork the cookie dough. Just mix thoroughly until the ingredients are well incorporated.
  • Maraschino cherries may be substituted for the glace ones. Drain well and cut in half.
  • Empire biscuits are terrific for tea time and royal watch parties.
  • Search our blog for other Scottish recipes.

Kotlety (Котлеты)

(Ukrainian Ground Meat Patties)

November 12: Feast Day of St. Josaphat Kuntsevych

When we used to live in Illinois, we met our friend Olga W.’s parents while they were visiting the United States from Ukraine for the first time. As they did not understand or speak English, Olga joked that her mouth was getting tired and her voice was getting hoarse from translating for everyone in our culturally diverse group. Then her mother cooked us a typical Ukrainian dinner of ground meat patties and served them with potatoes, brown gravy and a dilly tomato-cucumber-onion salad. “Mmmmm” needs no translation! All together at the dinner table, we graciously shared a common human need and love for food.

Ukrainian-born St. Josaphat Kutsevych (Йосафат Кунцевич), a Polish-Lithuanian monk and Orthodox archbishop, believed in bringing people together in the Christian faith. He was martyred on November 12, 1623, because he wanted to unite Christians (Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants).  Read the reflection of what St. Josaphat’s life mission was about at the Franciscan Media website.

Like edible ecumenism, in this Ukrainian style meat patties recipe, ground pork is often mixed with another ground meat (beef, chicken or turkey). There are many variations to this recipe but the result is still the same deliciousness! So in honor of this bold Ukrainian saint and his idea to mix things together, we were inspired to cook kotlety for his feast day. Mmmmm!

Recipe

Adapted from Olga W.’s Mom

Ingredients

  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound ground beef, chicken or turkey (we used beef)
  • 1 egg
  • ½ small onion, grated
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • oil for frying

Directions

In a bowl, combine the ground meats with the egg. Grate the onion and add it to the mixure.

Sprinkle the garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add the bread crumbs. Mix well. Use a large ice cream scoop to make balls. Flatten lightly into patties.

Heat a little oil on the bottom of a skillet. Fry the patties until browned on both sides and cooked through in the middle. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

Notes

Barbara Bush Cookies

November 6:Election Day 2018

We have been making cookies for Election Day events for some time now, using the presidential bake-off recipes from “Family Circle” magazine. These chocolate chip oatmeal cookies, submitted by former FLOTUS Barbara Bush, were among the first to be included in the publication’s inaugural cookie contest back in 1992. Although her recipe “lost” and her husband, George H.W. Bush, did not get re-elected, according to the magazine’s mythical prediction, Barbara Bush’s cookies have remained popular ever since the Houstonian Hotel asked her permission to put them on the Olivette restaurant’s menu.

On April 17, 2018, Barbara Bush passed away. As a respectful tribute to the late First Lady, we baked a batch of her cookies, which are also suitable to serve at social gatherings during the midterm elections.

Recipe

Adapted from the Houstonian Hotel

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup sugar, granulated white
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats (not instant)
  • 6 ounces (half a bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

In a bowl, sift together the flour, slat and baking soda. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the white and brown sugar. Beat in the egg. Gradually add the flour mixture and blend well.

Stir in the vanilla. Fold in the oats and chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonsful onto a lightly greased cookie sheet about two-inches apart to allow for spreading.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until the middle of the cookies have set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the cookie sheet for about 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Cool completely. Store cookies in an airtight container. Yield: Approximately 3 dozen.

Notes

  • We photographed our final food photo with a red rose, white pearls and a blue background for a patriotic color palette. Barbara Bush’s favorite color was blue and she was famous for her fashionable accessory (pearls) so we placed a strand of Islander’s beads around the cookies in the late First Lady’s honor.
  • We visited the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas, where Barbara Bush is laid to eternal rest.
  • Try our other Election Day cookie recipes from the presidential bake-off (2012 and 2016). These include both the political parties’ candidates’ Democrat and Republic recipes.
  • Search our blog for other recipes for Election Day (see the Patriotic listing under Theme Menus).

Ghost Peeps Cupcakes

ghostpeepscupcakes

October 31:Halloween

Get into the Halloween a”spirit” and decorate devil’s food cupcakes with marshmallow ghost Peeps and pumpkin candies. They are a simple, cute and quick treat to make with the kids and they sure beat store-bought desserts. Plain cupcakes can be transformed from boring to “boo-tiful” and can be a festive food for Halloween.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • Devil’s food cupcakes (or other favorite flavor)
  • Chocolate frosting (canned or homemade)
  • Marshmallow Peeps ghosts
  • Pumpkin candies (Brach’s brand)

Directions

Bake cupcakes according to the package directions. Cool completely. Spread or pipe frosting on the cupcakes.

ghostpeepscupcakessteps1

Separate the marshmallow Peeps ghosts in the package by cutting between them. Stick a toothpick on the bottom of the Peeps ghost. Insert into the top of a cupcake. Finish decorating by placing a pumpkin candy next to it.

ghostpeepscupcakessteps2

Notes

  • Change the cupcake paper colors to orange, purple, green or other Halloween liners.
  • Vanilla can be substituted for the chocolate frosting.
  • Search our blog for other Halloween recipes.

 

Pumpkin Crunch Cake

October 26: National Pumpkin Day

In Hawaii during fall and Thanksgiving, pumpkin crunch cake is the most-searched recipe on the Internet. As an alternative to pumpkin pie, this dessert holds up well in a tropical climate, can serve lots of local people, is relatively easy to prepare and complements the other ethnic dishes served at potlucks. We have made pumpkin crunch cake for autumn-themed parties and Thanksgiving get-togethers on the mainland and it is a crowd-pleaser. This favorite fall dessert is especially perfect for celebrating National Pumpkin Day!

Recipe

(From Phyllis S.)

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 ounces) 100% pure pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • ¾ – 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted and lightly cooled
  • whipped cream (optional frosting)

Directions

Line the bottom of a 9×13” pan with waxed paper. Mist the bottom and sides with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the canned pumpkin and canned evaporated milk. Beat in the eggs. Add the salt.

Mix in the pumpkin pie spice. Pour into the prepared pan. Sprinkle the yellow cake mix evenly over the entire top of the pumpkin mixture. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Pour the melted/cooled butter all over the top. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes (test the cake for doneness with a toothpick). Cool at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate to set. Invert the pumpkin crunch on a tray and cut into squares. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream (optional).

Notes

  • Smother whipped cream on the cooled cake as a frosting before serving.
  • For potlucks, we omit the whipped cream, cut the cake into 48 pieces and place them in cupcake papers for easy self-serve.
  • Thanks to our friend, Phyllis S., a Hawaii expatriate now living in Texas, for sharing this recipe with us. She served pumpkin crunch cake when she and her husband Pat S. entertained us and other people at their home and it was nostalgic for the locals!
  • Search our blog for other fall favorite foods or pumpkin recipes.

 

Queen Elizabeth’s Drop Scones

October 12, 2018: The Royal Wedding Day of Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank

Those who live on the west side of the Atlantic Ocean and are planning to follow the second British royal wedding of the year must wake up really early to watch any news reports due to time differences. A simple British-inspired breakfast with tea and scones would make still-sleepy fans rise and shine for the celebration of marriage between Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank (a low-key event compared to her cousin Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on May 19).

We have made many royal recipes for our blog before and are now including Queen Elizabeth’s own drop scones for this occasion. Also known as Scotch pancakes (which are basically like American-style “silver dollars”), Her Majesty served these to U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower when he visited her at Balmoral Castle in Scotland in 1959. Her old family recipe is included in the National Archives.

Drop scones/Scotch pancakes/silver dollars are a perfect option for celebrating the royal wedding early in the morning or for a tea time breakfast or brunch. Congratulations to Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank on their wedding day!

Recipe

(Adapted from Town and Country magazine)

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sugar (superfine preferred)
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted (we used European/Irish style unsalted butter)

Directions

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar. In another bowl, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add half the milk. Gradually mix in the dry ingredients.

Mix in the remaining milk and melted butter. Drop by tablespoonsful on a greased griddle/skillet/pan on medium high heat. Do not overcrowd the pan if cooking in batches. Use a spatula to flip the scone on the other side when bubbles appear. Cook until golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Serve warm with jam, jelly, clotted cream, butter or syrup.

Notes

  • Queen Elizabeth’s original recipe uses teacups for measurements. We have converted them to modern cup measurements above.
  • Search our blog for other royal recipes filed under the British/English/Tea Time section of our Theme Menus.